by Anne Marie Banfield

Recently a School Board Member and State Representative from Brentwood posted a disturbing message on social media about students who attended the Prom in Exeter (SAU16).

Representative Melissa Litchfield asked parents to contact her about an event that took place at the prom.

As your State Representative, I am trying to gather further information regarding the events that took place at the Exeter High School Prom this past weekend.

I have had some constituents write to me, angry about some things that went on at the event on Saturday evening. These complaints revolved around confidentially surrounding those who did and did not receive the COVID 19 vaccine and the labeling that came along with that.

Here are some quotes,” ….was pretty fired up today after learning that kids who weren’t vaccinated had a number written on them in Sharpie at the EHS prom last night. If they were on the dance floor, they had to raise their hands after every three songs so their numbers could be recorded by other underclass students for contact tracing purposes. There’s even more to the story, but this alone is surprising to us. We truly feel they are literally branding our kids if they don’t get this experiential “emergency” approved vaccine…”

“They also left the list of student names (first and last) with the info on whether they were vaccinated or not on a table outside after the prom. I found it the next morning. This information should 1. Not have been shared, and 2. Should never be left where anyone can have access to it. I have a photo of the list.”

“…I find it absolutely unbelievable that ” ” and ” ” was allowed to treat the kids like prisoners in Nazi Germany. Marking them, thus singling them out, and then having to raise their hands is beyond tolerable. First, the school could be looking at lawsuits for violation of HIPPA rights. They have no business asking for a vaccine card….last Thursday, masks were no longer required outside, and if this is in effect, it should not have mattered if they were vaccinated or not.” Nowhere does … state that if you aren’t vaccinated, you need to wear it. Instead, we will brand you with the scarlet letter for all the kids to see. I hope, and I am sure you will bring this to the SB and higher if need be. This should NEVER be allowed…”

If anyone has any further information, I would very much appreciate it. There has been much talk at the State level regarding vaccination status and confidentiality.

I posted this on my Facebook page and was contacted by a parent whose child attended the prom. This is what she sent me and asked that I keep her identity confidential:

[Redacted] was at this event and was “numbered” with a sharpie because [redacted] was nopt vaccinated. It was a school sponsored event at the High School. [Redacted] attended with a friend who was not numbered.

It was not communicated to us before hand. The kids were told it was optional to provide a copy of the vaccine card. When they showed up at prom check-in they were marked and has a number written on them in black sharpie on if they were not vaccinated. those that were vaccinated had a different color mark and no number assigned to them. Underclassmen were given the role of writing the numbers down on the dance floor. After every 3-4 dances kids were asked to raise their hands so the underclassmen could record the numbers

1. The had to show their vaccine cards to the class advisor in charge of the prom or at check-in
2. if they did not show a vaccine card they were numbered
3. Not sure if all kids had to raise their hands at the end of each “set” of dances or just the numbered kids – would have to verify with [redacted]
4. There was a list, with numbers associated to names.
5. the purpose according to the school was for contact tracing of all the non-vaccinated kids. If there was a Covid case they would not be allowed to attend senior week activities and graduation but vaccinated kids would be able to

I’m not seeking anything. For me – It was wrong that they put our kids in the situation. It is not right that kids are feeling pressured from peers, school and government to get vaccinated. Kids should not feel they need to get the vaccination or they will potential he “miss out” on events. It is a personal choice and should remain that. kids should also not be “branded” based on the vaccination status Whether by marker or other means

For example – if someone on the dance floor test positive this week all the numbered kids will miss graduation and all the senior week activities per the schools contact tracing policy.

The schools position on vaccination is picked up by the kids and now the kids are asking if you are vaccinated before you can hang out.

it has become a way to separate and color out those that won’t follow along – it’s a scary slippery slope and I guess I hope that if attention is brought to it, people might think twice about whether we want to start down that slope or not.

Regarding evidence required – you did have to provide proof of vaccination in order to not be numbered

As you can see from what’s being reported, this is extremely disturbing. SAU 16 parents have had to endure so much this past year. Many children were denied a quality education due to the shutdowns, their mental health suffered, and now the Superintendent hired a Principal who has made disparaging comments towards good parents in the school district where she is leaving. A week later, parents are furious about these incidents that occurred at the prom.

As a parental rights advocate, I’m receiving confidential messages from parents who are reporting all kinds of disturbing actions happening in SAU16. This, I feel, is leading parents to lose confidence in the leadership. That leadership includes school administrators and some members of the school board that represent SAU 16 parents.

School board members are elected to represent parents and community members. They are not there to protect the organization or individuals within the organization who are not serving the needs of all of the families.

I can only imagine how all of this could impact Jewish and African American families. These kinds of actions can certainly trigger students and parents who know history. Where is the empathy and sensitivity?

It is the parents who send the school district vaccine information on their children. They are the ones who determine whether they want to share this information or not. These are medical records on students, and yet it appears as if that information was on display for everyone to see.

SAU 16 has a page on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Injustice. It is full of rhetoric that includes statements like these:

“where individuals of all backgrounds and experiences are welcomed.”

“Part of our educational mission is to awaken our students’ awareness of their power and privilege so that they may view the world through a lens of equity and help eliminate unjust systems and practices.”

“Our vision is that all students will grow with confidence, empathy, and understanding of what is right so that they may advocate for these ideals in their world.”

“SAU 16 holds as a core value the respect and celebration of all human differences. We believe it is our moral responsibility to share with our students and families their power to pursue justice for all people, especially people from historically marginalized communities.”

I can go on, but you get the point. It appears as if they state what they are for, but then, when given a chance to respect the student community, they fail. Where is the justice for these students?

Does the administration and School Board know the history of how African-Americans were exploited by the government in the past?

The federal government supported 32 states that coerced the sterilization of tens of thousands of African-Americans from the early 1900s to 1981. In the 1970s, there was justifiable mistrust of the U.S. Public Health System, mainly from African-Americans. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments revealed in the early ’70s contributed to that mistrust.

How are African-American families supposed to feel after hearing how children were treated at the prom if they have not yet received the COVID vaccine? This isn’t about a personal decision to receive the vaccine; it’s about how district employees treated students and how other groups of individuals might view that.

How does exploiting children at the prom show Jews or African-American children respect? How does it offer any family in SAU16 respect for their child’s medical information and privacy?

What if students were branded with a number if they have a Sexually Transmitted Disease? Should they be required to share that information too? What about AIDS?
Where’s the ACLU?

Here is a picture of one parent’s child’s hand that was stamped and is now part of his picture from prom.

And here is her response:

“Wow. I was wondering why my boy was marked 19! :(“

Contact tracing isn’t about showing your vaccine card; it’s about notifying individuals who attend an event that they may have been exposed to someone who later turned out to have the virus. That could have been done through an announcement to the students who attended the event if a student tested positive after the Prom.

In this case, it sure looks like these kids were exploited because of their age. Many parents would never have consented to their children being treated like this. One parent activist called it bullying. This was a way of bullying the students into getting the vaccine.

Children need to be protected, and they need their personal and medical information to be protected too. They don’t need to have that information displayed for everyone to see.

Who is looking out for the privacy of a child?

Parents and teachers can contact me at any time and share information on anything. I will keep their identity confidential.

Note: Given the possibility that the Names on the form in the last picture may be legible we have redacted them.

Related: Prom hell: Unvaccinated students treated ‘like prisoners in Nazi Germany’

Related: Video of Backlash at Exeter School Board Meeting Re: CRT and COVID Branding