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Autistic Kids Left out of Yearbook

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Some moms say it was intentional. What do you think?

Granger family at Disneyland.jpg

When the mom of 8-year-old twins Hunter and Holden Granger discovered their class was left out of the yearbook at Quail Glen Elementary--along with two other classrooms of autistic children--she took action. Momlogic got the exclusive interview with Darla Granger:

Momlogic: When did you notice that the kids were missing?

Darla Granger: They came home with the yearbook in their backpacks on the last day of school and I didn't notice it. On Monday I started cleaning out their backpacks because they have summer school. I was looking through the yearbook and I went to the second grade section because that's where I figured they'd be and they weren't there. I'm not sure they completely grasp that they weren't in it, but I know that they would have noticed if they were in it. I showed them the collage, which they loved because it had a picture of them. They love to point out their classmates. Three classrooms of autistic children were all excluded.

Momlogic: Do you believe that this was intentional?

Darla: We actually never used the word "intentional" ourselves--that was the media. I don't think that it was done to be cruel. I think it's a problem in the district between bridging the gap between special needs kids and other kids. It's like we're squatters--we're here but we're not welcome. We don't get information about the newsletter, carnivals--you're kept in the dark. We've always had modular trailers that were as far away you could get while still being on campus. It's not just about the yearbook, but about a pattern we've seen through the years.

Momlogic: Have Hunter and Holden been discriminated against before?

Darla: Actually, they've made some really good friends. Holden played kickball with two mainstream little girls; when the adults have allowed the integration, it has been great. Why not follow the kids' example? It's OK to be different.

Momlogic: What, if anything, could the school do to make it up to you?

Darla: The school still hasn't contacted us. The district has apologized, the county has said that they're going to implement changes. We're outlining a letter to the Placer County Board of Education of the things that we want changed. We need to bridge the gap between these kids and the mainstream kids. I want to hear from the school, and I wanted to hear from the principal directly. She's handled it very poorly--she was very snappy and said, 'Your parent coordinator didn't submit the photos and we had to go to print.' You're telling me that if three classes were missing that no one noticed? I asked, 'Is that the excuse that you're giving me? Is that the excuse you want me to take to those above you?' She didn't act very compassionate. So we filed a complaint and took it to the media.

A reliable source--a teacher who has posted blogs, is saying that this isn't the first time the yearbook issue has popped up with the same classroom. Negligence can be a form of intent if you don't care enough to fix it. I'm hoping that now that we've exposed it to the world that other people around the world can use it to help them. That's the only reason we did it.

Do you think the omission was a mistake or an act of intentional discrimination?

next: Kids Go Ape for Monkey Munch
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
angela orourke June 25, 2008, 3:40 PM

yes I do think it was intentional, I think that people are often afraid of what they dont understand. They then do what comes natural, ignore them. I have a son who has a developemental delay with autistic like features. He is often overlooked or ignored in social situations. I am so lucky though that there is a school in my area for kids with delays. he cherishes school, i am so grateful for the interaction he gets there and for the outstanding education he gets,
thak you,
angela orourke
athens, ohio

Princesspeachfan2008 June 26, 2008, 7:15 AM

Ok, i think its not intentional, what if it so happened that the person who was assigned to make the yearbook tought that the school was only mainstream(if the person asigned was just a newcommer). And i know its maybe intentional according to angela orourke, but we still don’t know what really happened to the person assigned to make the yearbook. Maybe the mom of the autistic kids should file a complaint or make an organization against people who discriminate autistic kids. But the best thing to do is to report it to authorities right away.

Kate June 26, 2008, 12:25 PM

Ok, Princesspeachfan, give me a break! A teacher works at a school for 6-7 months and doesn’t know that there are 3 special needs classes? That just doesn’t happen! Besides, what public school doesn’t have a special needs program!? I think it’s terrible that the school’s administration would want to hide the fact that they have special needs children attending their school. It’s totally outrageous, and I hope that the administrators who let this happen are reprimanded for what they did.

Victoria July 3, 2008, 11:51 PM

I live in Placer County as well but I am in a different school district then Darla. My son is enrolled at rock creek elementary school in Rocklin CA. He too was left out of his yearbook and is a 9 year old child with autism.

The explanation that is posted on the Placer county education website, that it is believed to have been a parent/volunteer has me upset. I might have believed that explanation to be truthful however inexcusable, had my child not experienced exclusion from his yearbook in a different school in the same county.

I can assure you that a parent volunteer did not oversee pictures of special education children making it into the yearbook at my sons school.

Being my son is assigned to a general education class, his portrait should have been automatically included with the rest of his class. As if this exclusion was not bad enough, they did not even assign his portrait to go to a class picture of his special education class, missing two oppurtunities to include his school picture in the yearbook.

The idea that the superintendent would even attempt to pass off blame on a volunteer, or even announce they they suspected it was a parent/volunteer is appalling. Why not just take responsibility because ultimately isn’t it up to the districts to make certain that all students are included? The fact that they would make a statement without really investigating it has me seriously questioning if my son or other Special education children may experience being overlooked again in the future.

thregamer August 27, 2008, 3:44 PM

My child used to attend the same county as above Placer County, however at Stoneridge Elementary School. My child was left out of the year book as well and so was the wonderful staff at the preschool. I think the school principal should be a little more responsible and have the entire yearbook staff replaced. I have heard from other mom’s that they have had problems with the mom’s who volunteer taking pictures and who put the yearbook together. But for some reason the principal will not take any action herself!

The condition of the preschool area is not fit for children with special needs. These wonderful little children do not even have a shaded area to play in, BUT other areas in the school have covered areas for students. They assigned a part-time principal but he really has no say in anything. It has been said that this is just to give the regular principal “a break”, because she is “too busy” is what the front office always say’s to deal with matters that had to do with the preschoolers.

When I was at the school Stoneridge staff would look at our children with special needs as if they were from another planet. It is the norm for our children to run away, or have break-downs. This was something that the regular staff at Stoneridge must have found entertaining to look at and would not even call away regular students from looking and staring when this would happen. You would think my child was in a “zoo” for them to look at.

There is no excuse for the way the principal has handled the missing students and staff from the yearbook. As well as how students are made to feel as if they do not belong in school by regular staff and students. This sort of behavior is modeled by the principal and the teachers. Then by the parents of the students. If things do not change soon maybe the principal will find herself with a loss of funding that she can not gain back from all the special need children that will soon be leaving her school.

When will things change at Stonerdige, I am glad my child has moved on to another school. I do feel bad for students that were left behind and that have to continue going to such an awful environment.

LovJAZZ September 27, 2008, 4:49 PM

Something must be really wrong in the Roseville area!

Children with special needs to be included in all activities. I agree with the above comments, it all comes from the top.

Children are willing to accept everyone. It is when they see and hear their leaders and parents, being unable to accept children with special needs that the line becomes foggy. When they see the “zoo” environment schools put wonderful children in. That is when your child will ask, why? What a sad, sad situation you have. Even sadder when your school volunteers or parents who work on the yearbook can hold their heads up high and think that they did nothing wrong.

You see wonderful yearbook people you left my grandson out of your school called Stoneridge Elementary School. I live in New Orleans, if I lived in the area you would see me in person.

I would talk to each of you and make sure that you did not ever work in your positions again. SHAME SHAME SHAME on all of you!

Hopefully this is not the end of this matter for each of you. And that you are forced to redo the yearbook, or refund everyone!

NanBusyMom September 29, 2008, 2:21 AM

It is a shame that Darla has left all the other schools behind. She took what she wanted and could have used her own fame and ran this big issue with the other schools and helped so much.

I have been following this issue because my son has special needs and will start school in two years. I will make sure that we cover all the above issues.

It makes me sick to think that schools can let volunteers or teachers leave our wonderful children out of school pictures and class books.

Placer County is someplace I do not want to be.

GOOD LUCK to the families at Stoneridge!

Darla Granger August 3, 2009, 7:20 PM

Hi there! Well is has been a year since the whole yearbook issue, and I wanted to give an up-date. I want those above to know that we did not just allow the whole thing to die down. We did our best to ensure changes for all of the schools in Placer County- not just ours. We had multiple meetings with the head of the district, the county, and the head of special needs for Placer county. We even invited advocate heads from various advocacy groups to attend. We have seen big changes in our district, and can only hope it will pioneer other schools to do the same. Our boys and their classmates (approx 25 kids) were in the yearbook this year, along with the wonderful teachers who work with them. We have been included in all activities. The special needs kids have been integrated into mainstream classes and we were invited to go on field trips, go to assemblies, carnivals and school BBQ’s. We were involved in fund-raisers and my boys even received awards for outstanding achievements in their school environment and were invited to lunch with the principal. The principal did apologize and has made a real honest effort to right the wrong. It was hard to speak out- but well worth it thus far. We will continue to do so on behalf of our boys and all of the kids who need a voice!

Stephanie February 16, 2010, 11:22 AM

Thank you so much Darla for sticking it to the powers that be. My son is 3 and autistic and it scares me to death the wall I will be facing when he goes to school at Thomas Jefferson in Placer County. Thank you for knocking it down a bit for those to come.


Meredith/Kelly June 25, 2010, 3:18 PM

I have 2 wonderful boys of my own that do not have disabilities and if they were treated like that my husband and I would go to war! I can only imagine what it must felt like with special needs children! All children are blessings and deserve to be treated as such by the adults who teach them. Bless you and your husband for standing up for your precious little red heads.

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