Today, my younger sister received her high school yearbook from Watchung Hills Regional High School and was not listed as a student. She didn’t miss picture day or ask for her picture not to be included, she was intentionally left out, as were the remainder of the special education students.
While the faculty and staff who teach her and her classmates every day were acknowledged, Glenda was not. Everyone in the special education department was acknowledged: except the students. She was not given the same thought and respect that other students immediately received. There wasn’t even the mention of her name in the Index.
Imagine the heartbreak my mother felt having to explain to my sister why she wasn’t in the yearbook. And Glenda not being able to understand how she was seen as different than her general education classmates.
My mother did not sign anything refusing for Glenda to be represented in the yearbook, she actually signed a media release for the school to share photos of her as a student. But this wasn’t a privacy issue, because the parents were not consulted about this decision before the books were printed.
It is inexcusable that Watchung Hills printed a yearbook that specifically excludes the special needs students without any thought. How can a school that praises itself for being upstanding and inclusive defend their blatant discrimination towards a marginalized group of students?