‘Hear Heather’: Martin County students demand change after bullying incident

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:11 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2023 at 3:14 PM EDT
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MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Students in Martin County are demanding change after a bullying incident came to light.

The students had a protest Thursday, after they say their peer, Heather, was the recent target of a group of bullies on campus.

“They ruined what made her happy,” sophomore Hanna Fields said.

Students said bullies have taken advantage of Heather’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosis and friendly personality to manipulate her into embarrassing and harmful situations- from encouraging her to chug milk, to eating bananas until she is sick. She shared with students that they also “fed her fruit cocktail like a baby bird.”

“Heather doesn’t understand that these girls aren’t laughing with her, they are laughing at her,” sophomore Kadence Hale said.

When recent screenshots and videos began circulating on social media, many students were outraged.

“And my first question was: What are you going to do about this?” Hale said.

Several students and parents said they took their concerns to the school district, seeing no action or acknowledgment- claiming nepotism and social standing to be the cause of inaction.

“None of the staff did nothing about it. They call her names in the hallways - really bad names - and they do not get in trouble,” freshman Trenton McCoy said.

Students felt no one was listening as they tried to ask the district to do something. Many said it is disheartening to know that someone who is differently-abled could continually be a target with nothing done to help.

“All they cared about was shutting us up,” student Brooklyn Newsome said.

However, the students claim the bullying is not new to the school and it has reached an unacceptable climax. So, they joined forces and voices, bringing signs to school Thursday before dozens of students gathered outside to chant for change.

“I just hope that it changes everything, and I mean everything. The whole system needs to be changed,” senior Gracie Muncy said.

On Friday, Martin County Schools Superintendent Larry James released a statement on the bullying incident. He said the incident “has been reported and is currently under investigation.”

“The Martin County School District has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, which includes anti-bullying and sensitivity programs,” the statement said. “We strive to provide a safe learning environment for all our students.”

In a recent post on the Martin County High School Facebook page, prom is still on the schedule.