Dear APS families and staff,
Student safety and security of our buildings are always top of mind and recent incidents of gun violence have sharpened the focus of these priorities for my administration. We have started the process of securing an assessment of our safety practices in each of our school buildings from an outside school safety and security consulting firm. We look forward to this evaluation and plan to do a presentation on this initiative this fall.
As part of the district’s assessment of security and safety practices within our schools, I am pleased to announce the appointment of a school resource officer (SRO) for Andover High School. Andover Police Officer Thomas Paolera will join AHS at the start of the 2022-23 school year.
Officer Paolera is a lifelong Andover resident and an active member of the community. He is a 2008 graduate of Andover High School and attended West Elementary and West Middle schools. He has served as a wrestling coach and volunteered with Andover Youth Services. In addition to being an Andover native, he is familiar with promoting a safe and secure school campus, having worked closely with administration and student groups at Harvard University. Officer Paolera has been an active member of the Andover Police Department for nearly a decade, working as an officer for almost 5 years and served as a reserve officer prior.
Officer Paolera’s prior experience and commitment to the community is encouraging as he begins his role as the SRO at AHS. Through our interactions, I have found his willingness to volunteer and engage in conversations with students at the first annual Andover Youth Town Hall to be a good indication of his commitment to the community.
I am confident that his ability to connect to the community, especially our students, will be an asset to AHS. I would also like to express my appreciation to Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe for his partnership during this process. His guidance and experience have been essential in promoting a safe experience for our students and staff. Following the guidance of Massachusetts General Law, Chief Keefe has assigned an officer that he believes would strive to foster an optimal learning environment and educational community that promotes a strong partnership between school and police personnel.
I recognize there may be some trepidation with the return of an SRO to the high school. Officer Paolera’s role is to ensure the physical safety of the school campus. He is not responsible for enforcing school regulations, serving as a school disciplinarian, or using police powers to address traditional school discipline issues, including non-violent disruptive behavior. These responsibilities remain with AHS Principal Caitlin Brown and the school administration.
During this process, I have welcomed feedback from our students, families, and staff. I will continue to encourage these important conversations throughout the school year. Officer Paolera shares this willingness to engage with our students and looks forward to meeting with the school community to answer any questions. AHS Principal Brown will work with him to schedule these opportunities.
Magda Parvey, Ed. D.