York High School sophomore Amelia Vetter stands in the hallway by a set of lockers that she said are rarely used by students. Vetter was the target of a damning anonymous email. Credit: Richard Beauchesne | The York Weekly

Amelia Vetter remembers May 13 very well. She was visiting a friend after school when mother Crystal called her. Crystal had just received an anonymous email, CC’d to York High School administrators, telling her Amelia was not only selling and using drugs, but was a “leading supplier” of vape products. “Someone needs to step up and put a stop to it,” the writer opined.

Amelia, 16, was dumbfounded. She said she has pledged herself to sobriety and is a member of the anti-drug, pro-healthy choices student organization TIDALWAVES. She is also a member of the YHS drama club and longtime member of an Odyssey of the Mind team. In fact, she just came back from world finals, where her team came in 15th place “in the whole world.”

In short, she said, the allegation was preposterous. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t cause her angst.

“My heart just, like, broke. I couldn’t believe this,” she said. “Obviously, this person doesn’t know who I am. I was just saying the other day in art class that using substances is such a bad idea. It can ruin your life. But I have anxiety anyway, and I already had so much going on. This just added so much more. Was I going to get in trouble for something I didn’t even do?”

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The email sent to Crystal Vetter from “A Concerned York Parent” was from a protonmail account, an encrypted, anonymous account that originates from Switzerland to ensure coverage by strict Swiss privacy laws. In other words, it is nearly impossible to trace. In its entirety, it reads:

“Please note that I have sent this to the administrative faculty to make them aware. Your daughter, Amelia, has been using and selling drugs to students at the high school. This has been going on for a while and you have obviously done nothing to stop it. She is the leading supplier of vape products to the school as well.

“My hope is that you will see fit to have the school search her and her locker and have an intervention as she is putting all students in jeopardy of bringing this poison into the schools. I know of three instances where she was seen injecting herself in the school bathroom. Someone needs to step up and put a stop to it.”

Crystal said she too was shocked by what she read. Although she said she cannot definitively trace the email at this point, she believes that writer was likely among those criticizing School Committee member Meredith Schmid, who she “completely supports.” Schmid had released public school department documents to the York Weekly, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, that detailed concerning behavior toward staff by candidate Cheryl Neiverth. Schmid was also running to retain her seat, and was ultimately re-elected.

Vetter said she posted a positive comment about Schmid, along with a picture of a support sign, on her own Facebook page which was forwarded without her permission to York Community Dialogue. “Within an hour and a half,” she received the anonymous email. “I completely knew it was not true. But this is really frustrating to go after a daughter to discredit me as a parent.”

She said she called the school and was unable to reach anyone, but Assistant Principal Michael Bennett called back immediately and said, “We know of no merit to this. But we might have to talk with her.”

York High School Principal Karl Francis, when contacted by the York Weekly recently, said it’s important for the community to know that “We take all substance allegations very seriously and respond swiftly when we have substantiated evidence from multiple reliable sources. That was not the case in this situation,” he said. “Amelia is bright, responsible and kind. She is a positive influence on our school.”

York High School Resource Officer Nikolaos Piskopanis, who called Amelia “a good kid,” said he was informed not long after Crystal Vetter received the email. “I can tell you that I am monitoring the situation to see if there is any further emails sent in regards to her daughter. Tracking the email sender is extremely difficult in this case. I am hoping that someone will come forward with some information about who sent it and what their intention was.”

Amelia did respond to the email on the York Community Dialogue Facebook page, but waited until late on the afternoon of May 18, Election Day, so she could not be accused of swaying the election. In it, she said she is a teenager “not involved or interested with any of this drama” regarding the election. “I am hurt that an adult would bully someone younger than them just to hurt a family member… In the end it was extremely immature.

“I have seen bullying in the middle school and high school. I can say that I have seen more bullying and harassment in this page than I ever have seen in the schools. For adults to set this kind of example is terrifying to think that kids will think this is the way to handle things.”

Her post engendered a huge response from community members and parents who know her, giving her words of encouragement and support. “People who know her completely knew this was not something remotely true,” her mother said.

There was some comment that the email might have come from a student, but Amelia said the language is straight from adulthood. “‘Injecting herself.’ That wording was weird. And talking about my locker. No one uses their lockers. This was obviously someone who had no idea what goes on in the high school.”

Amelia said she decided to talk to the Weekly about this incident because not everyone in town is on Facebook and so might have “no idea this happened.”

“Telling people this happened because someone was immature, getting this out for people to see that the way people act can harm others, that’s what I want everyone to know,” she said. “I was raised to speak my mind. Someone said on Facebook that my opinion doesn’t matter. What you’re saying is, ‘Do what I say, not what I do.’ Be the better person. For an adult to go after a 16-year-old kid is unreasonable.”