News Section Includes Recent Mass Shootings
Some parents at Sue Park Elementary School in Spring were shocked this week to find references to mass shootings like those at Sandy Hook Elementary and Aurora, Colorado in their children's yearbooks. The references were in a news section insert recapping events of the past year, but many felt they were inappropriate for children of that age. "When this insert was seen, I had to explain to my son what the insert was for, what was the Sandy Hook thing....I wasn't prepared to do that," says Phil Maidlow, who has a 10-year-old at the school. Red flags went up with some parents when the school sent out an e-mail earlier this week warning that some content in the yearbooks may be objectionable.
The district says the news sections were mistakenly included by the publisher, Herff Jones. The sections were a "general world events" rather than the more age-appropriate "elementary version world events" that the school requested. "Fortunately the school saw it before it actually went home with students, so they were able to contact the publishing company, and the publishing company rectified the problem by shipping the appropriate insert," says Dr. Lisa Meeks with the Conroe ISD. The school is now offering the corrected versions of the yearbooks to parents. In the meantime, the school tried to mitigate the problem by requiring parents to pick up yearbooks before children got them. "The parents got to make the decision whether or not the kids got to see it...because they could tear out the section if they didn't want their students to view it," says Dr. Meeks.
But some parents, like Maidlow, didn't realize the section was there until their kids had already seen it. He would like to see parents have more say in the yearbook process before they are published. "With textbooks, there's a form where parents can answer questions, say I don't like this, I don't like that," says Maidlow. "But with the yearbooks, it's pretty much like we're just going to put in whatever we want to, you buy it and you'll see it when the finished product comes out."