Yearbooks withheld at Barrhaven high school for offensive content

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Students at John McCrae Secondary School did not receive their yearbooks this week after it was discovered the books contained offensive content and language.

Approximately 420 yearbooks were printed; the school confirmed it is in the process of reviewing measures to redact or correct the issue.

Helen Crawford, who serves on the secondary school’s parent council, said students are disappointed and ashamed by what has happened.

“They were getting ready to distribute them and saw a couple of mistakes and took a closer look,” said Crawford, whose son is one of the hundreds of students told he would not receive a yearbook until the issues were remedied.

“They’re not going to get their yearbooks on time. They’re not sure what their yearbooks are going to look like when they get them,” said Crawford. “I honestly believe it was some students who thought they were being funny and perhaps it would’ve been caught in the final edit.”

According to parents, the problem arose after the teacher responsible for yearbook club left following first semester; students were subsequently forced oversee the project on their own after a replacement staff member was not assigned to the yearbook group.

News of the oversight has carried throughout the school community.

“Embarrassing for John McCrae,” said grade nine student Isabelle Jay. “But at the end of the day, kind of funny, it was just kids being kids,” she said.

The school's principal Richard King sent a letter home to parents apologizing for not discovering the problem earlier.

“We are in the process of redacting some sections and creating labels to cover the offensive language. This should have been caught earlier and, as someone who was peripherally involved in its creation, I take some responsibility for this lack of oversight. My apologies,” he said.

Embarrassing situation at John McCrae SS @OCDSB where more than $20,000 worth of student yearbooks are being withheld because of inappropriate content @ctvottawa pic.twitter.com/EIz20anweZ

— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) June 15, 2019

Yearbooks were supposed to be distributed June 12. The school said it hopes to have the issue resolved in time for the end of the school year.

"Those who worked on this project did so tirelessly to make it the best yearbook they could," he said. "And I commend them for their efforts. It's a shame that a handful of graduating students chose to sully this permanent record as their high school legacy."

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