Distribution of the Chaska High School yearbook was delayed due to a picture that included a student in blackface.
Assistant Principal Jim Swearingen, Arts and Activities director for Chaska and Chanhassen high schools, made the May 22 announcement.
“One of the highest profile events of the year is our annual football game against Chanhassen. During final review of the yearbook we discovered a small picture taken of the student cheer section during that game that included one student in blackface,” Swearingen stated. “As a school community, we have talked about that incident, as well as the racist history behind wearing blackface.”
“I regret that we did not realize this was part of the image until after the yearbook went to print. Fortunately, we caught this before we began its distribution,” Swearingen stated. “At no time do we condone the ridicule or demeaning of other human beings, particularly our own students. I apologize that this happened and for the delay in our yearbook distribution.”
The yearbook costs $75. The district website describes the annual publication as “an historical account of students’ lives and activities during their four years of high school. Often the most treasured item of a student’s life, a yearbook reflects the trends and personality of school life and helps one remember those glory years.”
At the time of the announcement, the page with the photograph was being removed from the yearbook, with the goal of delivering the book to seniors on May 23 and to other students by Tuesday, June 4.
Eastern Carver County Schools issued a statement from Superintendent Clint Christopher regarding the district’s response to equity and inclusion in the district: “It’s important to acknowledge that there are issues in our schools. No one in the district is contesting that we have work to do, and I take my responsibility to our students, each and every one of them, seriously and personally.
“I — and I speak for my staff and for the School Board — am committed to fixing these concerns at every level of our school district. These incidents do not and will not define us, and we are investing in long-term, system-wide work to change the culture so that every person who is a part of our school community feels safe, welcome, included, and respected.”