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Special-Needs Students Left Out of Yearbook

Why a Group of Special-Needs Students Was Left Out of Their High School Yearbook

High school yearbooks signify a joyous occasion, but for one 21-year-old special-needs student in Tooele County, UT, this was not the case. Amber Bailey, who has Down syndrome and attends classes in a learning center that is housed in the same building as Blue Peak High School, was left out of the yearbook after the school made a change to exclude special-needs students who have since graduated but participate in a transitional program.

According to Mat Jackson, director of special education for Tooele County, the program aims to help special-needs students move on from high school, and he believes the students shouldn't be involved in high school activities like a yearbook. "They don't participate in classes with those Blue Peak High School kids," he said. "The expectation is different. The environment is different."

This explanation, however, did not sit well with Amber's mom, Leslee Bailey.

"They've been to school with these kids," she said. "They've walked the halls with them. How would you feel if it was your child?" For the last two years, the high school has always included the 17 special-needs students in the yearbook, and this sudden change shocked Bailey, who noted that it's tantamount to saying these kids "don't exist." Watch her interview above, and then let us know in the comments below if you think she's right, if she's out of line, or if the special-needs students should get their own yearbook.

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