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Christiansen says ‘personal attacks’ by Eureka schools board member forced her to step down

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Submitted photo – Kristie Christiansen at this year’s Logger ESPYs.

By Ray Hamill — Kristie Christiansen says her decision to step down as Athletic Director at Eureka High School was not one she took lightly, but one she feels was forced on her.

One of the most highly regarded ADs in the entire North Coast Section, Christiansen announced her resignation from the position this week after what she described as persistent “personal attacks” from a member of the Eureka City Schools District Board.

“Basically for the last two-and-a-half years I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal attacks from a Eureka City Board member,” she said. “And I was hoping they would be professional about it and hoping it would go away, but it hasn’t.”

Christiansen would not go into specifics, but did say it included emails to her and principals around the league, as well as attempts to get her children in trouble at Ferndale High, and that the situation was “too expensive” for her family to continue to deal with it.

The long-time local coach/AD says she has reached out to the Eureka City Schools District, but nothing has been done to help with the situation.

“They have been aware of everything that has been going on for the entire time and it has not stopped,” she said.

Humboldt Sports reached out to Eureka City Schools Superintendent Fred Van Vleck for his response, but we were told he is unavailable for comment until after the weekend.

Christiansen said it was difficult to find the words to express how she felt about the situation.

“I believe in God and I know that he has a plan. Something good will come from this, I’m just not real sure what it is,” she said. “I feel really sad right now.”

Positive influence

Her influence as AD has been felt by many.

“Kristie is an amazing person,” Loggers head football coach Andrew Haraldson said. “She gave everything she had and more as an athletic director. Her passion and drive are second to none.”

During her time as AD, Christiansen also had a big impact on the lives of the Loggers student athletes, helping to nourish a culture that went well beyond the wins and losses.

“Kristie was one of the many backbones that held Logger athletics in place,” recent Eureka graduate Keylei Carroll said. “She was always doing more than was asked and the athletics program will be feeling this loss for a while.”

Christiansen — who has been AD for five years and coaching “forever” — says she will miss working with “her team,” as she described it.

“I love my job as athletic director, and I felt blessed to go to work every day,” she said. “It’s been great. I love working with the student athletes, the coaches, I love all the ADs in the H-DN and (league commissioner) Jack (Lakin).

“At the end of the day, the relationships I got to build with people through that is the biggest blessing.”

File photo

A huge void

Lakin told Humboldt Sports that her loss will be felt throughout the entire league.

“The loss of Kristie as the AD at Eureka High School is extremely unfortunate,” the league commissioner said. “Her persistence, professionalism and passion will be missed by all of us associated with local high school athletics. It creates a huge void for not only Eureka High School, but also the Humboldt Del-Norte League.”

During her time as Eureka AD, Christiansen oversaw several additions to the Loggers calendar, including the popular annual Logger ESPYs and Logger Olympics, as well as forming the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Council and fostering better relationships with student athletes from rival schools around the H-DNL.

“She developed an athletic program that not just emphasized winning, but valued high school sports programs as an opportunity to assist student athletes in their transition to becoming productive young adults,” Lakin said.

Driving force

She was also a driving force locally behind the Let Them Play movement in the midst of the pandemic earlier this year.

“She has strong values and moral ethics that she firmly stood by to create a vision for Eureka High athletics,” Haraldson added. “Those are qualities that are becoming harder to find in leaders these days. Her role as athletic director was a major factor in my decision to accept the head coach position at Eureka High.”

Christiansen was clearly highly regarded around the league and the NCS, serving as HDNL Vice President and President, as well as being chosen to represent all 155 NCS schools as the Female Representative to the 12-member NCS Executive Committee.

In addition, She is also the NCS Female Representative to the CIF Federated Council.

Christiansen says she hopes to continue to work with the NCS and CIF but is unsure of whether she will be able to now that she is no longer an AD.

As she steps away, Christiansen says she is proud of what she accomplished along with the Eureka coaches and student athletes.

“I’m so proud of the culture I built with the team,” she said. “And by team I mean the coaches who bought into what my vision was, and the student athletes, and the administration at Eureka High.”

‘Enough is enough’

Eureka girls basketball coach Mike Harvey said Christiansen is the best AD he has ever worked with.

“She was passionate, she was energetic, and she put so much time into it. She was a fantastic AD,” he said. “I’ve worked with four ADs and she was the very best. All of them had their strengths, but overall she was the best.”

Christiansen had hoped for a better outcome.

“This is not how I wanted it,” she said. “I’m not a vengeful person, but enough is enough.

“Hopefully I can find some peace and find some other way to fill my bucket in athletic work.”

Christiansen will continue to teach within the Eureka City Schools District, although she admits she does know if and where she may be re-assigned.

“I wish her nothing but the best with the next phase of her career,” Haraldson said. “This is a huge loss for our school.”

8 replies »

  1. Thanks Ray. Great article. This is another sad story and major loss, the root cause being the leadership at ECS. Thank you for getting the word out and I look forward to more. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Van Vleck has to say.

  2. This is just another example of misuse of power by this board member and the superintendent. Losing Mrs. Christiansen as AD is devastating for our young athletes at EHS. She has always looked out for ALL of our athletes, not just the children of board members. When our superintendent doesn’t support out best teachers and role models, who will?

    • just another example of loving your school and standing by your person. You have no idea of what made this decision, just give it time. Let it age. She felt forced as a woman in this day and age to resign? Or did she get to over her head with power and use the rule for thee but not for me. I know the person in such dismay to resign enough to know a panel of 4 women and 2 men “know the situation” and don’t have her back. I know to bring the suggestion of the male member harassing her (1 of 2) to even trying to get her own kids in trouble is Bull. Cant rule with a Iron Fist but try and grab every advantage for yours……momma bear syndrome. Good luck

  3. Shame on the superintendent for not standing up for her in light of how widely praised Mrs. Christiansen is.

  4. As a former ECS student athlete, teacher, varsity soccer coach, taxpaying district member, and father of two school aged children, I am saddened by this story, yet also completely unsurprised. Having known Kristie as both her student and her colleague, I cannot think of a single negative thing to say about her character as an individual. As a young teacher I admired her tireless commitment to her students and the professionalism and dedication she brought to school each and every day. She is an outstanding teacher, coach and community member. Anyone who says otherwise lacks perspective and must be getting their information second hand. I have no idea who this board member is, but the story fits a pattern of incompetence, disregard and misguided priorities that were already tarnishing the reputation and learning/work environment of ECS when I chose to leave the district 6 years ago. Anyone in the know cannot ignore the exodus of both students and great teachers from Eureka to other local districts. This is not a result of delinquent behavior on the part of students, lower academic standards or lazy educators. It’s directly tied to a failed leadership that chooses to promote policies and programs that are consistently antagonistic to the very students and employees that it is designed and obligated to support. For this reason primarily I chose to not only leave ECS, but also send my children to another district where i’m more confident in an administration motivated by the best interests of its students, teachers and families. I can think of no other way to protest what has become of ECS under the current admin and look forward to a change in leadership and a new direction for the district.

  5. Who is the board member?? How come they remain nameless? This harassment has been going on for years?? Shame on the higher ups for allowing this to continue…
    Fred Van Fleck-… ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
    And to the bullying Board member, how pathetic are you?!
    You both should be ashamed!! You might have the power but you don’t have the respect.

  6. Kristie Christiansen was a student of mine at Ferndale High and has been my friend for many years. Kristie is a true treasure that is being squandered at Eureka High. I actually think Kristie would make a great Superintendent. I hope she can hurry and replace Van Fleck. Van Fleck has now taken it further and taken away the AVID program from Kristie and I’ve heard she is being moved at least partially to Zoe Barnum. Vindictive actions like this have no place in leadership. I think the rest of the board should stand up to the bully and vote to ask Kristie to return. I also think they should find a new superintendent as soon as Van Fleck’s contract is up. I hope that is soon.

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