Tooele School District, special needs parents reach compromise over yearbook photos

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TOOELE COUNTY, Utah -- A special needs student in the Tooele County School District, whose picture was originally left out of the yearbook, is now having her photo put back in, according to the school district.

Amber Bailey, 21, has Down syndrome. Her mother says by not including her in the Blue Peak High School yearbook the school is acting like she doesn't exist.

"The principal called and apologized and said he never meant to exclude anybody and he certainly didn't want to hurt anyone," said mother Leslee Bailey. "It was a mistake that shouldn't have happened, but it did."

Amber Bailey is one of 17 special needs students not included in the book. They are currently enrolled in the Transition Program, for adults ages 18 to 22, which is taught inside the school in the Community Learning Center.

According to the school district the students in the Transition Program are technically not part of Blue Peak High School, they just happen to have class inside the same building.

In a statement the district wrote, "No special education students were discriminated against or left out of the high school experience of being included in a yearbook. All students involved in this program have already been included in high school yearbooks from their 9-12 grade years."

Cheri Gunderson's son Cameron is also part of the Transitional Program. Gunderson said she supports the school district and she has no problem with her son being left out of the yearbook.

"For most of us as parents the yearbook simply doesn't mean that much," Gunderson said. "The yearbook is nice but I had no intention of getting a yearbook for my son, we did that when he was in high school."

However, Leslee Bailey said for the past three years, while Amber was a student in the Transitional Program, she had been included in the yearbook. It was something she was looking forward to.

"Of course I brought her to school every day and said, 'oh I hope you get your yearbook today, I'm really excited,'" Bailey said. "And I looked through it and I looked through it and I looked through it and I said, 'Amber you're not in it and she said, ‘I know,’ and I said ‘why aren't you in it,’ and she said ‘I don't know.'"

The school district is now in the process of making a separate page featuring the pictures of all 17 Transitional Program students.

"It's too late, but I wouldn't say it's too little, but I would say it's too late," Bailey said.

That separate yearbook page will be available next week in the high school offices for students to pick up. According to the district it can easily be inserted into the actual yearbook.


  • bob

    “Parents”? No. PARENT. Singular.

    The other 16 families know that our ADULT offspring do not attend Blue Peak High School, and do not expect that they should be included with CHILDREN in the Blue Peak yearbook.

    Nor should the ADULT students in the culinary arts school, or the cosmetology school, or the medical sciences school, or any of the other programs that share that building.

    Add me to the list of parents who don’t want our ADULT students treated like children. My son went through a lot to get through high school. He’s DONE. Has a cap and tassel to prove it. I don’t want him to be in a high school yearbook. Especially the yearbook of a school he does not attend and is not enrolled in.

    Why must we wring our hands and weep every time a single individual expects what she’s not entitled to? I understand her daughter’s disappointment, but that’s where some parenting is called for. Her daughter hasn’t been in high school for 3 years, and wasn’t in Blue Peak even when she WAS in high school.

  • bob

    “The school district is now in the process of making a separate page featuring the pictures of all 17 Transitional Program students.”

    HEY!!!! Keep my son OUT of the high school yearbook! You were not given permission to put him in there! He does not attend high school. He is not enrolled at Blue Peak High.

    Got it? ASK before you include him in your silly, bureaucratic “avoiding controversy”. You do NOT have my permission to use his image in the Blue Peak High School yearbook. And if you want to know who I am, you’d better start ASKING.

    • bob

      A totally separate photo page with him and his classmates is just fine, though, as long as there is no suggestion of any affiliation with the high school. They are ADULTS.

  • bob

    What a shock: Amber’s “mother” has scammed a free trip to New York to appear on Fox news.

    There will be no mention of how the school district, and Amber’s current school, have bent over backwards to accommodate and encourage her all these years. No “thank you” for arranging a JOB for Amber. Nope. Just a free vacation.

    Next up: The inevitable lawsuit.

    Disgusting woman. The people who REALLY care about Amber are getting death threats from all over the country.

    • April

      Yeah, I was getting that same vibe from mothers quote. It’s pretty clear from the quote they used in the article that the mother was the one asking about the yearbook everyday and hyping it up and getting excited about it, not her daughter.

  • audra

    why not have the adult program make their own yearbook ? the adults in the program can each make a page of their accomplishments and goals and their likes..

  • Bob Cat

    Thanks, Bob, for all your comments. This mother has done her daughter and her fellow students a dreadful disservice.

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