HAMLET, N.C. – Administrators at Richmond Early College High School distributed 22 pre-ordered yearbooks on Tuesday, only to take them back hours later over “controversial” Donald Trump inspired quotes.
Shortly after school officials distributed the pre-ordered yearbooks, at least one person posted an image of senior quotes published in the yearbook they found offensive, including one “build that wall” quote critics allege is racist, the Richmond County Daily Journal.
“So Richmond county school system allowed this to be printed in their 2017 year book (sic),” Artney Ellerbe posted online, along with a senior photo that’s accompanied by the Donald Trump quote. “I already knew this city was racist. Get a court date you’ll find out. This doesn’t surprise me at all.”
District Spokeswoman Ashley-Michelle Thublin told The News & Observer administrators found several inappropriate quotes in the yearbook, including “build that wall,” after officials distributed the yearbooks to 22 students. Thublin did not provide examples of the quotes officials deemed offensive, but said students were not punished for the situation and administrators confiscated the distributed yearbooks the same day.
Officials are now offering refunds for the yearbooks, which cost between $30 and $39 depending on when they’re ordered, and will not be distributing any more. The school’s last day of classes is May 18, and new yearbooks cannot be reprinted in time so the Class of 2017 will have to go without, she said.
Richmond County Schools addressed the ordeal on Facebook.
“Earlier this week, it was discovered by school administration that Richmond Early College yearbooks had errors and inappropriate comments,” the post read. “The principal immediately collected the distributed yearbooks. We regret that this incident has occurred and are currently working with the yearbook’s publisher to make corrections.”
“As a district, we do not and will not tolerate inappropriate conduct toward any of our students,” it continued. “In each situation, our goal is to provide for the well-being of all of our students and prevent recurrences of inappropriate conduct.”
Parents of students at the school told the Daily Journal the principal approved the yearbook quotes, and many think school officials are overreacting.
“I feel that young lady only stood up for her freedom of speech by using the quote of her choice,” said Charity Davis, mother of freshman Chase Brown. “Every senior was given the opportunity to choose a quote. It was her right as an American to choose any quote under the sun.”
Davis also questioned why the yearbooks were not screened for potentially offensive material before they went to print.
“Those kids, especially the seniors, have a right to the annuals they already paid for,” she continued. “Seems to me the error occurred with the yearbook committee. Someone didn’t proofread. Whose fault is that?”
Parent Angelia Hinson agreed that the issue is being “blown out of proportion.”
“I’m sure she (the student) isn’t the first or last to repeat this now-famous quote,” she said. “I do, however, have an issue with the fact my child … a senior, paid for her yearbook when they first went on sale … (and) has yet to be given her yearbook.”
Kayla Hicks, a student at Richmond Community College, posted on Facebook that students who were sensitive to the “controversial” quotes will receive a wake-up call in college.
“If one doesn’t know how to handle something that differs from their opinion other than complain about it while putting others don at the same time, you shouldn’t be graduating high school or allowed to be in this world on your own,” Hicks posted. “College is going to be a huge wake up call to some of this young adults graduating this year.”