Monday, December 11, 2023

Local principal apologizes for yearbook cover

Downing Middle School in Flower Mound is offering a refund on yearbooks for families who are offended by stickers with political connotations.

Students received their yearbooks a little over a week ago, and the front and back covers of the student-designed yearbooks are covered with printed stickers representing students’ life in 2020-21. There’s a cupcake, baby Yoda wearing a mask with the caption “Keep distance we must,” a bunch of video game images and more. There’s also a black fist with the words “I Can’t Breathe,” and a sticker saying “Science is real, Black Lives Matter, no human is illegal, love is love, women’s rights are human rights, kindness is everything.”

Downing Principal Curtis Martin said in an email to Downing families that when he approved the yearbook design, “none of the stickers evoked a political message for me, but were rather a documentation of the issues we face as a campus, a community and a nation.”

“I absolutely realize some don’t share that view, including a number of Downing students, staff and families,” Martin said in the letter. “For those with concerns, please accept my sincere apology for not considering your perspective on these stickers.”

Martin’s letter goes on to offer a full refund for anyone who wants to return their yearbook. Or, they can pick up a free Downing Middle School sticker to put over the stickers that offend them.

In a statement from a district spokesperson, Lewisville ISD said Martin “successfully resolved concerns expressed about the 2020-21 yearbook by offering families the opportunity to receive an alternate cover for the yearbook if they choose. We believe this honors the comments we’ve heard on both sides of this situation, and allows families to choose a yearbook cover that best represents their views.”

Martin later spoke with the yearbook publisher and they are able to replace the cover with a new one that says “Be Happy, Be Bright, Be You.” Students who want the new cover will not lose any autographs they have collected from their friends.

Meanwhile, Kayla Mick, the art teacher who taught the yearbook class, was put on administrative leave for the last week of school. Her husband, Greg Mick, said the district didn’t make it clear why she was placed on leave or what the investigation was about, but from the questions they asked, it seemed to be about the yearbook.

“They feel her politics were getting into the classroom, which I don’t agree with at all,” Greg said.

The LISD spokesperson said Kayla Mick wasn’t placed on leave “as a result of complaints by parents,” but “it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Greg said the district took Kayla off administrative leave and allowed her to go back to school at noon Friday, when there was about one hour left in the school year. She is “still under investigation,” though.

“LISD has always supported the efforts of teachers and administrators to provide outlets for the voices of students in our district publications,” the district said in a statement. “It is our best hope that all of our teachers connect with students in a way that makes them feel safe and creates a sense of belonging in every classroom. Having said that, we expect staff to remain neutral while engaging students in these conversations, in accordance with district policy.”

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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