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Mesquite High School Yearbooks Pulled After 'Mentally Retarded' Used To Describe Some Students

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: Updated: 05/21/2012 11:51 pm

Mesquite High School

Officials at Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, have recalled their recently distributed school yearbooks after it was discovered the books described some students with special needs as "mentally retarded," KDFW-TV reports.

"Some of the disabilities the students in the Special Education Program have are being blind, deaf or non-verbal," school spokeswoman Laura Jobe told the station, describing the offending language.

According to KDFW, school officials confiscated the yearbooks after parents and students objected to the language and called it "appalling and disgraceful."

“There was an oversight in the editing approval process,” Jobe told the Dallas Morning News. “Those who work inside the special education department know these requirements.”

Jobe told KDFW the school "earnestly regrets" the error, and that students should be getting their yearbooks back next week, though without the pages including the language.

Mesquite High School's principal also plans to call the parents of the special needs students to apologize, and Jobe told the Dallas Morning News the district would never condone using the term "mentally retarded."

The “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, which is sponsored by the Special Olympics, has made it their mission to eliminate the use of the "r-word" in schools and everyday life.

On the group's website, Special Olympics athlete Karleigh Jones explains why the word is "old-fashioned" and offensive:

“The word retard is considered hate speech because it offends people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the people that care for and support them. It alienates and excludes them. It also emphasizes the negative stereotypes surrounding people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; the common belief that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be segregated, hidden away from society, which, in my opinion, is really old fashioned.”

Other controversial school-related documents from around the country:

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  • Perceived Racist Vocab Quiz

    A teacher was suspended and handed disciplinary action in March 2012 for a question she wrote on a vocabulary quiz that some argued was racist. When district officials reviewed the test in context, however, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/lakeshore-schools-rescind_n_1367588.html" target="_hplink">the charges against her were rescinded.</a>

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    Sawgrass Elementary School in Sunrise, Fla. made the news in April 2012 when a second grade student was included in a class photo despite not having turned in a parental consent form. Instead of retaking the photo, the photographer resolved to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/parents-upset-over-degrading-school-photo_n_1406159.html?ref=education" target="_hplink">paste a brown-colored smiley face over the boy's face.</a>

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    A letter sent home with students at Western Union Elementary School in North Carolina didn't sit well with parents in March 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/western-union-elementary-african-american-attire_n_1370984.html" target="_hplink">The note asked students to wear "African American attire" or animal print for a Black History Month event,</a> calling into question educators' choice of words and cultural sensitivity.

  • Superintendent In KKK Robe

    In April 2012, flyers with an image of Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis in a Ku Klux Klan robe sparked controversy in the community. The bill was in response to a contentious school redistricting plan that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/07/atlanta-public-schools-re_n_1410029.html" target="_hplink">would have closed several schools</a> in a number of Atlanta's black neighborhoods.

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