SUAMICO, Wis. — A guest speaker’s presentation to Bay Port students Thursday generated so much controversy that it prompted a letter of apology to parents from the school superintendent.
The speaker, Jeff Yalden, was asked to come to the school to talk about teen mental health and suicide. Some students and faculty, however, shared their concerns about Yalden on Twitter, claiming that he acted inappropriately during the presentation.
Some claim he made inappropriate comments toward a teen girl and told another kid to leave while he was speaking. Yalden, and others who support Yalden online, have disputed the details of what exactly happened.
Parents in the Howard-Suamico School District got a letter from Superintendent Damian LaCroix on Friday. This letter was also forwarded to NBC26.
“I am writing to extend an apology for the presentation at Bay Port High School yesterday which did not reflect our high expectations for a message on this topic,” the letter stated.
The letter stated Yalden was also scheduled to speak at Bay View Middle School (see photo above), but that event has since been canceled.
On Friday, Yalden delivered a statement on Twitter, acknowledging some of the negative reaction from Thursday.
I’m here for anyone to have healthy conversation about my message, intention, how I deliver my talk, etc. I will not address anyone who can’t use their real name or just wants to be hateful or mean.— Jeff Yalden - Teen Mental Health (@JeffYalden) May 3, 2019
You all have every right to feel as you feel about me or my talk. Just remember, growth mindset or fixed mindset? Did I say something positive or beneficial to you for your success and wellbeing? Can you objectively look at the message and the messages within the message?— Jeff Yalden - Teen Mental Health (@JeffYalden) May 3, 2019
Finally, accusing me of sexual assault is very serious and could be crippling to anyone’s career. I’m very hurt by this. Be careful what you say on social media. These allegations are criminal, wrong, distasteful, and hurtful. I wish you all the very best. My heart to yours.— Jeff Yalden - Teen Mental Health (@JeffYalden) May 3, 2019
The full letter from the Superintendent can be read here:
Dear Bay Port Families, Staff, and Students,
Mental health and wellness is an important and timely topic. In an effort to address this emerging area of concern, we invited a guest speaker to present on May 2 to Bay Port students during the school day and to the community later that evening. The speaker was also scheduled to speak at Bay View Middle School today.
I am writing to extend an apology for the presentation at Bay Port High School yesterday which did not reflect our high expectations for a message on this topic. We hold all adults that interact with our students to a high standard. While we recognize that some students and parents had a positive response, we received substantial student, parent, and staff feedback to inform our decision to cancel at Bay View today.
We have a procedure for selecting speakers for the best interests of our students and staff. We are reviewing that procedure in order to improve future experiences.
Our commitment to the important topic of mental health and wellness will be reflected in ongoing conversations and programming in our schools guided by our HSSD leadership team and community partners. We are encouraged by the dialogue this week and we are reflective in our approach moving forward. Thank you in advance for your continued understanding and support.