It was most likely an unfortunate oversight, but it was a hurtful one all the same. When Cascade View Elementary School in Western Washington handed out their yearbooks at the end of the school year, 14 students were omitted. Not because they had missed photo day or didn’t get the right photo package. No. The fourteen missing students comprised the school’s entire special needs class.
Mike McCarthy, father of a 10-year-old daughter with autism, was the first to notice and was quick to contact both the school’s principal and his superiors in Olympia.
The district said that the omission happened because of a photo processing error. Without delay, the district made moves to rectify the problem. Every family in the school will be receiving a new yearbook from an emergency corrected printing.
“To ensure that all students receive a corrected yearbook, we are sending a copy to all families at no charge. They should arrive in early July,” wrote Kristin Foley in a prepared statement, representing the Snohomish School District.
One doesn’t want to attribute this oversight to malice, but it’s very hard to buy it as a photo uploading error, either. Not when the missing photos all belong to so specific a subset. The parents of students with special needs students are used to this kind of slight, according to McCarthy.
When he mentioned this situation on Facebook, he was contacted by other parents who had been in similar circumstances and not seen them so quickly rectified.
“The school did a fabulous job. They told me with their actions how important these kids are to them,” said McCarthy in an interview with King5 News.
That shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is, particularly happening on a week when a Massachusetts judge ruled that a special education school would be allowed to continue to use electric shocks on students to enforce behavior. Children who differ from the mean are often left out of normal childhood opportunities like appearing in the yearbook, with long-reaching consequences to the adults they will become.