In past years, Amber Bailey and her fellow classmates in the Blue Peak School System’s transition program have been included in their high school yearbook. In fact, according to her mother, Amber has had a picture in a yearbook for every year she has been in school. This year something changed.
This year, Leslee Bailey was stunned when she saw that her daughter Amber wasn’t included in the Blue Peak High School yearbook as she had been in past years. Amber has Down Syndrome, and takes classes in the Utah high school building.
Nor were the photos of any of Amber’s classmates included, either. Unfortunately it wasn’t an accident or oversight. The Blue Peak High School decided to stop including the special needs students in the school’s transition program, and for some pretty weak reasons.
As Leslee Bailey put it:
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.’
So what this comes down to is an exercise in space saving. One semi-close look into that reasoning causes it to disintegrate rather quickly. Consider that these students, 18 in total, could surely have all of their pictures placed on one page. That wouldn’t even be a tall order. So the school district is essentially saving on one printed page. They decided one printed page was worth breaking the hearts of 18 students, and parents like Leslee Bailey.
A sad and unfortunate decision.
Now, the district is flailing about trying to come up with new and better reasons for the disrespect of these students. Representatives for the district claim that the students didn’t “interact” enough with the other students.
This too is a hollow argument. The students in the Transition program, as it is known, do indeed interact in hallways, at lunch, and during other times, even if they don’t share a classroom with them. Anyone who has spent time in high school knows that those times in between classes can be some of the most important on many levels in a young person’s life.
On top of that, I seem to rememebr some pictures of some people in my yearbooks that didn’t exactly have a lot of “interaction” with the students. I don’t think I was ever sent to the comptroller or administrative assistant to the Superintendent’s office.
So what remains is a school district callously and without warning essentially spitting on the special needs students in their district. From what is reported, the district gave no warning, and their reasoning has been shallow, at best. Shallower still seems to be the hearts of those who made this decision.
Check out this report from local Utah TV on the story: