“The city is committing every resource to bringing this man’s killer to justice.” This was a statement made by Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison after the tragic death of 18- year-old Caval Haylett Jr, a Poughkeepsie High School senior who was shot at 10:00 PM on Wednesday, March 9, and died less than a day later. As a student there, I remember that the day after he died, the halls were completely silent. At lunch, nobody said a word.
Caval was a bright, well-liked student and basketball star. He was shot only hours after winning a big game.This is the worst thing that happened at PHS in the 2015/2016 year, and left students, parents, and teachers alike all shocked.
It came on top of other problems in the school. In the English department, there was one English class that went through four English teachers. I was one of the people who experienced this run through of English teachers. In the beginning of the year, several of us were supposed to have Ms. Kathy Dudley. Instead, many of us were switched over to a class with a young new teacher nobody enjoyed having. By late October, it came to light that she was under-qualified as a teacher. The school quickly replaced the teacher with a man. After about a week of teaching, he was suddenly absent from school.
That night at home, my friends and I all discovered that he was arrested. He was charged with rape. After they found emails on a school-issued laptop, he was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a TriValley student under the age of 17 whom he taught before moving to PHS.
The next teacher they brought in to fill the spot was a woman. She was the teacher for the class for the next several months, lasting until late May. The official word on why she was suspended was “HR issues” After her, we only had about 5 weeks left of classes, so they gave every class a different teacher, depending on what teachers had free periods when, but they all had already worked in the school for a number of years.
All these happenings are not the first time bad things have happened at Poughkeepsie High School, and they certainly won’t be the last. This shows what happened when schools are underfunded, especially in the circumstances Poughkeepsie is in.
This school year as her part in the literacy rollout initiative of the Poughkeepsie City School District, Ms. Tiffany Ward had given her classes several documents showing how Poughkeepsie and its neighboring school district of Spackenkill are resegregated schools.
An essay by Kyle Sullivan, a former PHS student, shows that in 1947, it was mandated that students from the Spackenkill middle school going into 9th grade, would go to Poughkeepsie High School. However, in 1956, Spackenkill residents started pushing for a Spackenkill High School. This effectively resegregated the schools.
Nysed.gov shows that in 2015, there were 547 students enrolled in Spackenkill High School. Of these students, 63% were white,15% were Asian or native to a Pacific island, 12% were Hispanic or Latino, 9% were black or African American, and the remaining 2 percent were American Indian, Alaska Native, or multiracial.
But in Poughkeepsie High School, there were 1137 students enrolled in 2015. Of these, 61% were black, 25% were Hispanic or Latino, 11% were white, and the remaining 1% were Asian, pacific islander, or multiracial. In Poughkeepsie High School, there were 300 people in the graduating class. Of these 300, 60% graduated and 25% dropped out.
In Spackenkill there were 131 people in the graduation class, and of these students, 95% graduated and 0% dropped out. The graduation rates are what they are because students at the underfunded school with the poor students don’t have the resources they need to do as well as the students at the well funded school with middle class students.
Poughkeepsie High School does what it can for its students and teachers alike, but without proper funding students will continue to die and teachers will continue to be unqualified — or even criminals.