By Richard Luscombe
A school principal in Arkansas has apologized for “political inaccuracies” in a yearbook falsely stating that Donald Trump was not impeached and that last year’s racial protests in the US were “Black Lives Matter riots”.
Josh Thompson, principal of Bentonville’s Lincoln junior high school, admitted that some of the contents of the yearbook, which also included a photograph of the deadly 6 January insurrection in Washington DC captioned: “Trump supporters protest at the Capitol,” were “both biased and political”.
In a letter sent to students and parents, Thompson said the yearbook “does not represent our values nor meet LJHS and Bentonville Schools’ standards for quality and excellence.”
The letter did not address how the false statements and political opinions came to be published, but promised the school would “evaluate its vetting process for all yearbook content to ensure future publications are of the highest quality”.
In many US schools, yearbooks are produced by students under the supervision of teachers, often during journalism classes.
The Lincoln yearbook featured a photograph of an unidentified group next to an overturned car, with the caption: “Black Lives Matter riots Started in Minneapolis in may of 2020 [sic]”; and a separate photograph of the former president with his fists clenched and the caption: “President Trump WAS NOT impeached.”
In reality, Trump was the first president to be impeached twice, in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and again this year for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
“We can and will do better to provide a quality yearbook to students that can be a cherished item as they reminisce about their time at [the] school,” Thompson said, offering his “deepest apologies” and a refund to parents who had bought one.
A spokesperson for the Bentonville school district declined to answer questions from the Guardian, stating that the principal’s letter would be its only comment.
The Arkansas controversy follows another yearbook scandal earlier this week in which a Florida high school was criticized for digitally altering dozens of images of female students to hide their chests and shoulders.
A teacher at Bartram Trail high school in St Johns admitted manipulating 80 photographs of girls she considered inappropriately dressed, while leaving images of male students, including one of a swimming team attired only in bathing trunks, untouched. The school also offered refunds.