A recent study on the school climate of Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech High School was presented to the school committee Tuesday evening.

The study, conducted by Brown University's New England Equity Assistance Center (NEEAC), found a generally good school climate at the high school, though some changes can be made to make it more inclusive to all stakeholders.

Dr. Elise Arruda Laorenza presented the NEEAC's findings and noted that two sub-groups of students, those who identified their gender as other and racial/ethnic minorities, reported significantly disproportionate treatment by students and faculty.

According to a summary of the report, "A good school climate and strong sense of pride does not negate the feelings and experiences of some stakeholders. Acknowledging and addressing incidents will help create a more positive climate for all stakeholders and may create a stronger sense of community." The full report was not available Tuesday evening.

Superintendent-Director James O'Brien said there were "episodes of problems, not a school-wide climate."

"We are ecstatic to know that the overall climate and culture here at this school is very good, to that point students are happy to come to our school," O'Brien said after the meeting.

The NEEAC made four recommendations to the school committee that will be used to shape new policies and procedures. The recommendations are:

  • Review and revise the school's policies and procedures for responding to incidents of race, ethnic and sex-based harassment and bullying and provide whole school training on what verbal and physical bullying and harassment are, the reporting process at the school, and the communication of incidences;
  • Provide whole school training on harassment, diversity and inclusion to raise awareness and accountability;
  • Increase opportunities for collaboration and communication among all stakeholders both within and outside the school community; and
  • Analyze data regarding school level equity and access, and develop strategies for reviewing and responding to these data.

In other news, multiple sources have claimed Michael Wildrick, the school's IT director, has left the school. After the meeting, O'Brien declined to comment on personnel matters.

School committee member Fred Toomey said he was unaware of any personnel changes and that that type of information would have been presented to the committee.

"I'm sure if he has in fact been terminated, we would have been notified but I have no knowledge of his termination or anything of that nature," Toomey said.

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