Yearbook Photos Spark Controversy In Charleston, District Leaves Statement

CHARLESTON (KFSM)—Some Charleston parents are concerned after their kids brought home a yearbook with students making some questionable hand gestures in at least two pictures. One photo is on the cover of the yearbook and the other is inside.

Superintendent Jeff Stubblefield said three high school seniors have been reprimanded as a result.

Although it’s rare, this is not the first time this has happened, Stubblefield said. As protocol, the district told the yearbook staff to censor the photos.

“I don't think they should've been doing that kind of hand gesture on the front cover of the yearbook,” said Debra Ralston, a parent.

But others didn’t see the issue as a big deal.

“I think it's probably a more accurate depiction of what happens with today's youth,” said Traci Kannett, a parent.

A Charleston resident initially told 5NEWS about a black marker censoring three boys’ hands on the front cover of the yearbook. He also mentioned a page in the yearbook having a sticker that covered a photo with students holding up gang signs. The copy of the yearbook 5NEWS obtained did not have a sticker over the apparent photo, but Stubblefield emphasized the students were not making gang symbols.

He sent us this statement:

District policy strictly prohibits all hand gestures in yearbook photos. The 2017 Charleston Yearbook was amended due to three students displaying hand gestures during a group photo. These hand gestures absolutely do not represent any "gang" symbol or affiliation. Any accusation that this matter is related to gang activity is without merit.

Although these three students made a poor choice, they have displayed a high level of character as Charleston students. They have accepted appropriate disciplinary consequences for their mistake.

The district deeply regrets this incident. We encourage parents and members of the community to contact the district directly to discuss their concerns and questions.

Jeff Stubblefield
Superintendent

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