School Cuts Special Needs Class From Yearbook Without Telling Moms

amber bailey

Parents of high school students, when you see your child's yearbook at the end of the school year, what's the first thing you do? Odds are you flip through the pages, looking for your kiddo, right? Imagine what it would feel like to not see your child's photo, because the school just didn't have enough room for them. You'd be pretty upset, no? When Leslee Bailey, the mom of 21-year-old Amber, who is a special needs student at the Community Learning Center in Tooele County, Utah, found out that her daughter was cut from the yearbook in an effort to save space, she was, understandably, incredibly upset. 

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The school that Amber, as well as 16 other special needs students, attends is in the same building as the high school; and in the past, they've all always been included in the yearbook. But, there was an abrupt change this year -- one parents weren't forewarned about. 

"It’s kind of like they singled out the students who were in the transition program and said, 'We don’t want you in our yearbook,' Leslee said. "They’ve been to school with these kids. They’ve walked the halls with them. How would you feel if it was your child? You know, your child was left out because, as the principal told me, 'We don’t have the pages.'"

Although it may make sense to some to omit students who technically aren't in high school out of a yearbook, I don't think it's quite so black and white when it comes to these students. Clearly, Amber and the rest of her class aren't experiencing a run-of-the-mill, "normal" school career, so why not make an exception for them? Especially if it's been done in the past? Everyone loves getting a yearbook. It's such a shame to deprive them of that; to deprive them of something "normal."

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If the school never included Amber and her classmates in the yearbook before, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But, cutting their photos from the book -- and not giving parents a heads up -- is pretty harsh. 

According to Mat Jackson, director of special education for Tooele County, the reason the students weren’t included in the yearbook this year is because in the past, students from the high school would tutor the special needs kids, and this year, that didn’t happen. Jackson said that the goal of the transitional program is to help the students move on from high school and its accompanying activities -- such as yearbook. 

For Amber’s mom, though, that reasoning just isn’t adding up. "It bothers me because it seems they’ve gone back in time to where we’re not including them. And we are going to tuck them away and say, 'No, they don’t exist.'" 

Again, on the one hand, it makes sense to not include kids who aren't in high school in a high school yearbook, but this situation is much more nuanced than that. Hopefully, the school will go back to including the kids next year, because it's something fun for anyone in school to look forward to -- and because any mom wants to see her child's photo in a yearbook. 

Do you think it was wrong to leave the special needs students' photos out of the yearbook?

 

Image via Fox

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