A Utah school is apologizing after receiving backlash over a yearbook photo that didn’t include a member of its cheerleading team – Morgyn Arnold, an eighth grader who has Down syndrome.
Two photos were taken of the team that season, one one including Arnold sitting in the middle of the team with a purple shirt and wide smile. In the other, she was absent. Arnold is the team manager of her school’s cheerleading team. She learned all the routines, attends practices and cheers along at every home game
Arnold’s sister Jordyn Poll says this isn’t the first time she’s noticed Arnold cut from class lists. In a post on Facebook, Poll said she’s seen her sister “devastated” time after time for being “sidelined.”
Shoreline Junior High School apologized and called the photo an “error.”
“We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made,” the school said in a statement on Facebook. “We are continuing to look at what has occurred and why it occurred. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize to others impacted by this error. We will continue to address it with the parents of the student. We will continue to look at our processes to ensure this does not happen again.”
In a statement to USA TODAY Davis School District also called the incident a mistake and said they have apologized to the family.
“We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made. We are continuing to look at what has occurred and why it occurred. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize to others impacted by this error. We will continue to address it with the parents of the student. We will continue to look at our processes to ensure this does not happen again,” the district said in an email.
When Arnold came home on the last day of school upset she didn’t appear in the photo, Poll spoke out on Facebook.
“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team. I hope that no one ever has to explain why people deliberately choose to be exclusive,” Poll, 25, wrote on Facebook. “There were two photos: one with Morgyn and one without. A choice was made on which photo to submit, a choice made MULTIPLE times and a choice that excluded Morgyn EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.”
Poll also emphasized the blame is not on the girls on the cheer team and that those girls are Arnold’s friends. However, she did reference a school administrator who told their family “they didn’t know what we were expecting of them and there was nothing they could do.”
Poll ended her Facebook post with a message for people to be more inclusive and aware of helping those commonly excluded.
“Be the person who stands up for what’s right and makes a difference. Teach those around you, kids and adults, to look around and see the Morgyn’s being sidelined. We are better than this,” Poll wrote. “It’s about time we start showing it and it’s time we hold each other accountable for it.”
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda
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