Natalie Giannini, board president, reads from a prepared statement about Perry’s reassignment | Images screenshot from Norhtern Humboldt UHSD meeting video



It’s been nearly a month since the Northern Humboldt Union School District Board voted (4-0) to remove Ron Perry from his position as Arcata High School Principal and reassign him to a teaching role in the district, a decision that shocked and angered many Arcata High staff, teachers and parents. 

During last night’s meeting the board finally decided to issue a statement about the decision, which (not too surprisingly) contained essentially no new information, and even the board admitted that the statement was ‘deeply unsatisfying’ for those concerned about Perry’s reassignment.                            

“So the board has received concerns from the community and staff members regarding the decision made at our Tuesday, March 12th board meeting to reassign Arcata High School principal Ron Perry to a teaching position next year,” Natalie Giannini, board president, read from a prepared statement during the meeting.

“The board and the district have been questioned as to why we have not released any details about the reasoning behind this decision … ,” she continued. “We are legally prohibited from discussing the details of any and all personnel matters. The fact that we may not discuss or provide details regarding a personnel matter should not be interpreted as the board not caring – we do. This should also not be interpreted as the board not doing our due diligence.”

Giannini went on to say that personnel matters are confidential and that the board cannot share information on decisions concerning employees. 

“While we understand that this answer is deeply unsatisfying, we’re nonetheless legally required to maintain employee confidentiality,” Giannini continued. “Please consider that if the district or board were to share confidential personnel information, we could open ourselves up to expensive lawsuits and we would deter prospective employees who want to work for an organization that values employee privacy.” 

The audience was completely packed during the meeting, and because of the large turnout, Giannini said the board would go over the usual 20 minute allotment for public comment, providing 20 minutes for staff to comment and then opening it up to the rest of the public. 

Dozens of district staff members, teachers and community members took turns at the lectern, voicing their support for Perry and their ire at the board’s decision. 

“I’ve been working here for almost 15 years and Ron Perry is one of the most caring, dedicated, engaged, present people I have ever seen in this position,” Alexander Kantner, an English teacher at Arcata High, said during public comment. “It has been deeply and profoundly disillusioning to feel that our elected representatives are unable to communicate and have the kind of transparency that I assume we all value as citizens of this society.” 

AHS English teacher Alexander Kantner addresses the board

Many Arcata High students also came to support their principal and express their concerns about the board’s decision to reassign him. 

“As elected officials on the school board, ‘for the people, by the people’ should be something that should be vehemently prioritized,” Melanie Luh, associate student body president at Arcata High said to the board. “Instead, the voices of teachers who haven’t had a consistent bell schedule since COVID, and students who haven’t had a consistent principle since the pandemic, have had no say or influence in this matter.” 

Luh was referring to the fact that Arcata High School has already been through three principals in the past six years. Perry has served as principal for about two years and will be finishing off this semester in the position before being reassigned to a teaching position at the start of the 2024-25 school year. 

The board ended public comment after roughly 30 minutes, cutting off one final commenter,  Pam Cavanagh, who attempted to address the board. 

“Actually, the public comment is over,” Giannini said.  “We have no more time for public speakers. I’m sorry. We gave 20 minutes and we just went overtime.”

This was met with some uproar from the crowd, who encouraged Cavanagh to speak anyway. As she began, the board announced that it would be adjourning to a 10-minute break and the commenter was cut off. 

It remains unclear as to why the board decided to remove Perry as Arcata High principal and it appears that it will likely stay that way.

You can view the full meeting video here. The discussions related to Perry take place between roughly 17 and 55 minutes in.