Sep. 20—HAVERHILL — Students at Haverhill High School who are involved in destructive acts will have to pay restitution for any damage and will face other school-based consequences.
"Our school must be physically and emotionally safe for all students and staff," Principal Jason Meland told parents in response to incidents of vandalism that occurred last week in connection with a social media challenge that encourages students to destroy and steal school property and post videos of their actions.
Known as the "Devious Licks" challenge, the viral trend popularized on TikTok hit Haverhill High last week in addition to other area high schools.
Meland said the high school has a zero tolerance policy for disruptive, destructive and hurtful behavior and that the school's Personal Device Use Policy states that students are not allowed to take or capture images or recordings with their cell phones at any time without prior approval from a teacher or an administrator.
"We have removed access to Snapchat and TikTok on our HPS network, and we expect that students are not using these or other social media at school," he said. "We reminded students of these expectations and will continue to do so moving forward."
Meland said that with these steps in place, he expects to quickly see improvements in behavior schoolwide.
"Please know that while there have been several unacceptable acts of vandalism, these acts have been mainly minor," Meland said. "Rumors of large scale destruction of property are inaccurate."
He said he expects all acts of vandalism to come to a stop and that consequences for engaging in vandalism, mischief or aberrant behavior will be swift and stern.
"Any student involved in destructive acts will be required to pay restitution for the damage and will face other school-based consequences," he said.
Contrary to a rumor going around, no student activities funds have been or will be used to pay for any vandalism repairs, Meland said.
He said the high school is taking a number of steps to address behaviors students might experience at school this week.
They include meeting with all students to remind them of expectations, adjusting the lunchtime schedule, norms, and routines, increasing adult presence in the hallways, monitoring restrooms, and assigning consequences to students engaged in inappropriate behavior.
"Additionally, we will continue to forward concerns about vandalism to our school resource officer and to work in close partnership with the Haverhill Police Department," Meland said, noting there will be an increased, supportive presence in the school.
He asked parents to speak to their children about this behavior and to listen to their concerns.