desks school stock classroom

Advocate file photo of school desks.

A Livingston Parish school is offering to reprint its 2018-19 yearbooks after two special-needs classes were excluded in the original version.

Administrators at Westside Junior High in Walker don’t know how the omission happened, said Livingston Parish Schools spokeswoman Delia Taylor, but parents say one class each of special needs and special education students totaling about 20 kids didn’t have their pictures in the book.

Parent Angela Grunewald said last year's yearbooks were recently distributed to families, and many of the special needs and special education parents quickly realized the photos of their children weren't included. Grunewald has one child each in special needs and special education at the school.

She said that, in previous years, the special needs and special education students’ headshots are mixed in with the other students in alphabetical order, rather than by class or homeroom, meaning it wasn’t a case of several pages being missed in printing, but an omission of about 20 photos of what appears to be just those classes.

“It hurts to be left out. … They do want to be included,” she said.

Grunewald said the children who were missed have differing abilities, meaning some are nonverbal and could not express or for some, even comprehend, that they had been left out. She said she knew of at least one boy in her son’s class, though, who is able to express himself more freely and said he didn’t want to go to school anymore because he felt unwanted.

Taylor said Monday the school is offering to reprint the correct version of the yearbook for parents who request a new copy.

She wasn’t able to confirm it was a special needs and special education class that were left out, or if there were any other items missing from the original printed copy.

“Any student who wants a new book with everything in it, a whole new book will be correctly printed at no cost,” she said.

Taylor said school officials are still not sure whether the issue originated in printing or at the school level, but she said the teacher who runs the yearbook designing process left mid-school year last year, which may have been where the problems arose.

Grunewald said she believes every student at the school should receive a new yearbook, not just the families that request one. She said she understands that mistakes happen and doubts the omission was intentional, but said to make it right the school should reprint the order entirely.

“It’s like every time we turn around there’s something new that is just sticking out like a sore thumb about our kids,” she said.

Taylor said she did not know the cost of the yearbooks, but Grunewald estimated they cost families around $40 each. Louisiana Department of Education statistics as of February 2019 indicate Westside had 837 students enrolled.

Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.