Mesquite ISD apologizes for ‘retarded’ in yearbook - Dallas News |

Mesquite ISD apologizes for ‘retarded’ in yearbook

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Administrators confiscated all of the Mesquite High School yearbooks this week because of language some parents and students called appalling and disgraceful.

"They told the entire class that they have a slight mistake that needs to be fixed," one senior said.

He said many of his fellow seniors were angry because they had to return their yearbooks even before they could finish getting signatures from their friends and teachers.

But by late Friday afternoon it became clear why the school wanted all of the yearbooks back.

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it," the student said.

The Mesquite Independent School District released a statement saying that the special needs students are a valued and important part of the Mesquite High community. It wanted to honor them by dedicating a section in the yearbook.

According to spokeswoman Laura Jobe, the section in question said, "Some of the disabilities the students in the Special Education Program have are being blind, deaf or non-verbal … (students' names) are both blind and deaf, as well as mentally retarded."

The district further explained the school did not obtain parental permission for the photographs in the section, which are required by law. So the section must be removed.

"I'm appalled that it happened. I mean, I have a grandson that is a special needs student in elementary school and had it been him I would have sued the school district," said Christie Rawson, a parent.

"That word is hideous and the fact that it could get put in a yearbook and be overlooked by a faculty adviser which is an adult. I can see the kids doing it and missing it but not an adult," said Jana Lazarus, another parent.

Mesquite High's principal does plan to call and apologize to the families of those special needs student affected.

"We earnestly regret the term ‘mentally retarded' was included… and offer our apologies to our students and their families," Jobe said.

The district expects to return the yearbooks to students sometime next week. However, many seniors are still upset because their last day on campus is Tuesday.

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