Student Whose Remarks Are Believed to Have Been the Focus of Controversial Facebook Post Writes Letter to NHUHSD Superintendent

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After contentious contract negotiations, a Facebook post showing Halloween costumes by staff at Northern Humboldt Union High School District sparked outrage after it seemingly mocked a student in the district. The student, Zoey Clark, whose comment was apparently referred to in the post wrote a letter to the district superintendent and staff and asked that we publish it.

The letter is below along with a screenshot of the Facebook post that has upset some members of the community. (An earlier story by student reporters about the incident can be read by clicking here.)

Close up of photos

Screengrab of a Facebook post by a NHUHSD District Office Employee.

To whom it may concern, my name is Zoey Clark and I am writing on the subject of what occurred on October 31 in your district office. I am attaching a photo in this email as supplementary evidence of the personal attack that was instilled upon me when I woke up on the morning after Halloween (November 1) to find this photo. A photo that clearly mocked a statement I had made at the public comment section of the Board Meeting on October 8, 2019. Now, in the beginning, I was okay with it, a little bit upset and feeling personally attacked, but as my day progressed and I had more and more people asking me about my wellbeing I realized that I really wasn’t okay with this. The first minute I was away from any of my friends, I broke down and started crying. The realization that adults who I didn’t even know were mocking me finally hit me, and I was not okay with that. One of my friends comforted me, fortunately, but I cried for a very long time. When I was done crying about harassment by your district employees, I began to cry from all the stress in my everyday life that I have been suppressing. For the record, I’m stressed about college and graduation and a bunch of other things in my life. It has not been the easiest senior year, this event is just icing on the cake.

I took the liberty to read the policies and regulations posted on the district website and thought I would share the ones that stuck out to me. Starting with Article 5 Section D Subsection 5c. “Nondiscrimination/Harassment” wherein it is stated that “The Board prohibits, at any district or school activity, unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or bullying…The Board also prohibits any retaliation against any individual.” Now, this is just a piece of what that subsection states, and though that may be the ruling for students, I feel strongly that the district office employees and superintendent should be held to the same standards, if not better, than those of the students. Another section of the policies and regulations I would like to share is sourced from Article 2 Section 1 Subsection A which states the duties of the superintendent, “The Board also desires to provide a fair basis for holding the Superintendent accountable.” With that in mind, I urge you, hold the superintendent accountable for his actions. I should not have to tell you that the bullying of a child by adults in power is not okay. That should be a given to your district staff, but yet, here we are today. From the professional standards, “The Board of Trustees expects district employees to maintain highest ethical standards.” If this is true, why were your employees allowed to do such a thing? I have not received a single apology from any of those in the photo that I felt was genuine enough that it wasn’t just a lie to cover the faults of the staff. Do not allow this thing to happen again if this issue is not handled now, who is to say that it won’t happen again? That is why I am speaking out, not for me, but for those who cannot speak for themselves. I will not just sit by and tolerate harassment from those who are supposed to be an example to myself and my fellow students. These actions would set a dangerous precedent for staff and students alike. Some may ask, “If staff can do it, why can’t the students?” Are you prepared to answer this question?

Zoey Clark

UPDATE: NHUHSD Superintendent Responds to M&M Incident

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54 comments

  • I stand with Zoey!

  • This is a brave young woman. Thank you for standing up for yourself and other students, Zoey! Bullying should never be tolerated in a school setting, and it is beyond shocking that a district superintendent and his staff would engage in such behavior.

  • Zoey
    You exemplify more maturity and grace than the school board. They should be ashamed.

  • I fail to see the point . Please explain . I see lots of people dressing as m&ms and it isn’t offensive . Laurie

    • Hi, I didn’t get it but go back up to the top and click on the pink words and it will lead you to where Zoey went to a board meeting supporting teachers getting pay increases and she made a comment. Wow, incredibly cold board members!!

  • People constantly rag on today’s kids about how “oh god, this is our future” and how badly behaved today’s kids are. You want to know where they learn it from? This bullshit right here. This is the kind of horse shit we tell our kids isn’t okay, this is bullying. These are grown ass adults that most likely complain about the terrible kids of today. Way to make yourselves look like complete jackasses and show everyone exactly where the kids of today learn it from.

    • No excuses for this stupid stunt and FB post, but I think you are seeing this out of context. The reason they did this is because they were mocked, and some could say bullied, by the students and teaching staff in a public meeting and elsewhere. At the direction of the teachers, the office staff have been criticized by the students and public as being dispensable and a waste of money. The students are learning to be self-serving and disrespectful in public not only from this stunt, but also from the teachers in the first place. What would be the response from the teaching staff if the administration turned the students on the teachers and their high compensation as the reason why the district doesn’t have enough money for say a truly healthy school lunch program, better technology, more attractive campus, etc. All NoHum employees are paid very well relative to other districts in the region. It’s greedy, disingenuous, and disinformation to tell students “we need more money or we’re not going to make it.” That BS is what started the whole downward spiral that led to this stunt.

  • You can tell the leader, head bully, bad influence is the one in the orange shirt making a face 5 year olds normally make..

  • I think it would be hilarious if the community all came to the next school board meeting and anytime the superintendent tried to speak we ate m&m’s very loudly.

    I am really hoping the school board will take action here and comply with its own policies. The community is watching you and you would think you would have 0 tolerances for any action of bullying or putting down especially after a student hung themself on school grounds last year. I am beyond worried for the emotional well being off all of the students if this is how the leadership team acts.

    Furthermore it is now a crime… and if you read the actually definition in the penal code this counts…. California Penal Code Section 653.2
    California Penal Code Section 653.2 holds a person accountable if they participate in online bullying. If the person responsible for harming another student had bad intentions, then the victim or education system reserves the right to hold the accused accountable. The consequences include up to one year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines.

    California Safe Place to Learn Act
    A change to the California Safe Place to Learn Act includes the protection of victims harassed online. The Act itself represents a safe space for students. This includes students of all backgrounds, sexualities, and gender identities. Moreover, it now protects students facing judgement online both on-campus and off-campus. It also states that a school environment should be a comfortable work space for all.

    • They all need to lose their jobs. If they are so stupid as to engage a teenage girl on social media they lack the judgement required to supervise children. There’s no point in keeping any of them.
      Orange should go first, and publicly.

  • Now is a good time to go to Humboldt Mediation…y’all need to quickly resolve your issues and hug it out. More contention is not what is needed in our community. Take advantage of the opportunity for everyone to grow & forgive. Then you will know how to help others do the same.

    • “Hug it out?”

      I believe in the power of mediation. I’m a trained mediator and I have done that work myself. But some situations require public acknowledgment and sincere apologies before mediation can begin to be effective.

      This is a situation in which the individuals who enforce standards of behavior on children have clearly and publicly violated those standards themselves. In doing so, they have brought pain and confusion to a child in their care. Professional disciplinary measures should be brought to bear on every person who participated in the shaming and mockery of that child. Only then will mediation be meaningful to the victim of their ill behavior.

      • Mediation does not always, or even usually result in “hugging it out.” Many participants want that and I understand For Sure’s reference to that ideal. However the most important outcome of any restorative justice practice is that both the aggrieved people and the people who initiated the hurtful action have been exposed in a controlled and safe way to the perceptions, feelings and context of the other. A successful “mediation” will not further injure anyone and will give a head start to “moving on.”

    • I’m puzzled by the perception that the “joke” was mocking the student. It could have been, of course. My interpretation tends toward the idea that the district folks were attempting a little awkward self-deprecating humor. I also notice that any mention that refers in any way to some people is interpreted by them as an attack. Those people often feel free to counter-attack or defend aggressively. I notice this defensiveness in people who have power or privilege and also in those who are discriminated against.

      Now, I don’t have any prior knowledge of any of the “contestants” so I both lack prejudice and context. I hope the superintendent makes the adult move and apologizes for the hurt felt by the student. It might also be big of him to compliment the student publicly on her bravery and principled stand and encourage future strength of character. Then, only if it’s true, he might also explain that his awkward joke was aimed at himself.
      One of the difficult things about Zoey’s position is that in a contentious public process she can only guess at the intent of actions that clearly referenced something she said.

  • “…but as my day progressed and I had more and more people asking me about my wellbeing I realized that I really wasn’t okay with this. ” Now there is this issue in a nutshell. Convincing a student that she really should feel really bad is about the power plays going on with the suppose adults in this situation. The teacher’s should not be dragging students (and don’t think that is not exactly what is going on no matter how disingenously the teachers involved say it’s all the student’s own ideas) to make points for them. Whether the school administers are arrogant or not is between them and the teachers. The students are too easily influenced by the contacts they have daily with the teachers and this privileged position should not be abused to score points.

    • It takes time for a person to develop a reaction to an incident like this. Sympathy and empathy aside, this young lady has very clearly articulated her own emotional and intellectual response to some very contemptible behavior by adults whose job it is to set and enforce standards of personal behavior.

      Bravo for Zoey!

      Shame on that whole staff. They need to find a new job, each and every one of them. I wonder who instigated this ugly act, I wonder who went along with it, and I wonder who objected and who, if any, declined to participate.

    • Zoey was never coerced into standing up for her teachers.

      • Guest it's not really for the children at all

        She clearly has no information about what her teacher’s salaries are, what their benefits are, what that means relative. She only knows the teachers union position. Teachers are in a position of control simply because they are dealing with a group selected specifically to be taught by those who know more. Student’s don’t have to be coerced. They are lead and teachers have a duty not to lead them for personal gain.

        Teachers are not starving, homeless, unable to get medical treatment, beaten (at least by anyone other than the occasional student.) They can’t pretend to be a disadvantaged minority abused by the powerful. Their claim for student support is totally self centered. They deliberately dragged the students into it by stopping any popular activities that were not specifically required by their contracts. Can you imagine that this is not all a matter of move and counter move between remarkably well off people for financial gain? That’s their right to bargain for more but does it really rise to the level of “a cause?”

  • Dad of another Zoe

    Zoey,
    You are standing up for yourself, and that is good. You are in the right. College is expensive. Let the district help you with your tuition. Ask a lawyer if you have a case. This will all pass and you will be stronger as a result.
    Illegitimi non carborundum.

  • I smell a Lawsuit arising out of this whole s(h)ituation!!!

    • If you are brave enough to stand up for teachers raises and say what you said, then be brave enough to shake those response comments off. I person would’ve been flattered because they were still thinking about what was said.

      • If a child is brave enough to stand up for something they believe in, then it’s okay to be bullied by 10 adults and then be told to feel flattered?

        Instead of focusing on the student, let’s focus the light on the 10 adults who ganged up on a high schooler online.

        • “ child “ …. please… she’s a young adult.

          • Nit picking the difference between child and young adult isn’t the real issue.
            Under state law she is still considered a child.
            Although I would agree, 17 is a young adult in my eyes.
            Feel better now?

            Regardless, your distraction/deflection from focusing on the 10 adults who need to be held accountable isn’t working.

            • What gain is to you to have children fighting in this battle between really privileged adults? What did you expect would happen when children are put in the position of supporting adults in a conflict of the adults making? Why would you think that was ok?

              • Why are you so upset a 17 year voiced her opinion?
                The district employees laughed her off the stage so to speak, so it wasnt like she had any type of influence over them. I don’t understand your desire to silence people under the age of 18.

                That aside, how can you sit there and excuse the “adults” behavior?

                I think you are missing the point in all of this.

                Be a role model, not an asshole.

                • You all are why our country is week!

                  We need strong students. If you can’t take what you dish out. Go suck your thumb. Life is hard and non of you snowflakes are helping. Adults snowflakes or child snowflakes. You can’t pull your stress card out in real time.

  • These sedentary adults have clearly consumed a substantial amount of cheap, brain-damaging sugars. Trying to offload their unhappiness onto others will not shed the thick layers of underlying self-disgust and pity.

    We need to be compassionate towards adults who are dissatisfied with their chosen paths, as their journey out of mundane misery is very difficult (if not impossible), and fraught with resentments gathered over a lifetime of uninspired choices. Let this be a lesson to the youth, live a life that ensures you are never at a place where mocking children satiates your need for relevance.

  • Oh my god folks, this was just a group of folks making fun of themselves! Clearly they had no intent to bully or disrespect this young lady (although some teachers have tried to convince the student that it was).

    These teachers are the ones that should be reprimanded as they are using the students to do their dirty work of bashing the Superintendent and the office staff !

    You got what you wanted in your negotiations, now get over yourselves!

    Why not try working together to educate our kids instead of acting like spoiled brats.

  • I’ve been to way too many forums open to public comment that are like this. The governing panel sits up there behind their little curtained folding tables, not paying attention to whoever is speaking. Reading, eating, pouring water, looking at phones, talking to each other, basically letting what is said go in one ear and out the other – then feel personally attacked if the speaker point this out. It is really beyond assholery to continue making fun of a public speaker, not befitting to represent whatever board or organization they are members of.

  • Zoey, your letter was outstanding! I love that you approached the issue from both an emotional and factual standpoint. You are precise and well-spoken. I dont know the whole story behind this…only what I read here, but you handled this well! Bullying is never okay and whether that was their intention or not, you have handled it in the right way. You got this!!!!!! Keep being strong and try and shake off the actions of others. Their foolishness does not define you. 😍

  • Zoey, I’m so sorry this happened to you. You sound like a very intelligent and gentle person. Adults can be incredibly insensitive but this was cruel. As if the district isn’t already having enough problems. It never ceases to amaze me how a group of adults can do something so stupid and not a one of them thinks it’s wrong.

  • Come on Humboldt, we can’t do any better than this? Honestly I could write just the costumes off as a coincidence if the caption wasn’t so aimed at this student. It was unprofessional to be snacking during tense proceedings, and they’re obviously sour that they got called on it. These are our people in power? Really? So immature and unprofessional.

  • What hand sign is the brown M&M flashing?

  • Dear Sirs:
    These people should all lose their jobs for what they did. In other areas people who have done mean spirited and unacceptable behaviors do. If Zoey was of another racial background they would be gone already. Humboldt County already has a system of “good old boy “ mentality within its courts and civil servants. This needs accountability for all who were involved.

  • at most she was playfully mocked which doesn’t seem like it would result in the major meltdown that was described.

    My advice would be steer clear of any planned future endeavors into politics. This person obviously can’t handle it.

    Our leaders on both sides of the isle are mocked relentlessly on twitter and social media everyday in ways that are actually horrifying . Some teachers wearing m&m shirts shouldn’t trigger a psychological meltdown.

    • This misses the point entirely. It is the roles of the people involved that is critical. Teachers and administrators are expected to act in the best interest of students who are children and at the very least, not willfully inflict harm. Maybe modeling good, mature behavior is too much to ask of some, but at least don’t inflict harm. Discouraging a child now because of her response to a completely unacceptable situation only makes it worse. I am nothing but optimistic about Zoey’s future, whatever path she chooses.

    • In politics you have the right to push back towards the ones mocking you.
      Unfortunately if the student in this case does that, it could end up being looked at as insubordination and be reprimanded.

      • Which is a reason not to encourage them in a conflict that should only involve adults. Who placed them there and encouraged their participation making it appear to be a matter of partisanship?

        • Wrong – if the adults acted appropriately, there wouldn’t be this conflict.

          You cant take the effect and make it the cause!

  • Shows how unhappy some Women are (and one guy, lol) with their personal lives and the need to make others unhappy. How LAAAAAMMMEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OF THE LOSERS!!!!!!!

  • Zoey Clark can dish it out but can’t take it.

  • anti social snowflake media

    the end of civilization is nigh. when anyone spends any amount of time on stupid crap like this the conclusion is obvious: the end of civilization is nigh.

  • Those so-called adults went to a lot of trouble to mock Ms. Clark. It’s not a casual coincidence they all bought t-shirts for the occasion.

    Ms. Clark, despite her youth, seems to be the only person acting like an adult in this situation.

  • As a disabled parent with PTSD I am appalled by the comments by some of the folks here.

    Put yourself in Zoey’s shoes. How would you react?

    Read the minutes: https://www.nohum.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=1476087&type=d&pREC_ID=1626233

    Go to the meetings. (I will bring M&M’s for everyone!!)

    Look at the big picture.

    Be informed.

  • Well……. M & M’s are suppose to be ROUND aren’t they??????????? They are doing a Fantastic job of it…

    • Yep……. M & M’s plain or peaNUT! Looks like these sweet chocolate sugar treats aren’t too good for the mind or body!!!

  • Humboldt and its entitled locals. they all need to lose their jobs, if not, plan for extra seating at your future meetings. I guess Dan is no longer in the spot light, kind of like trump and Bush jr.

  • Kym has there been any formal response from the school district or board?

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