New Jersey High School ‘Intentionally’ Leaves Student with Special Needs Out of Yearbook

"Everyone in the special education department was acknowledged: except the students," Glenda's sister said.


High school years are the best time of most people’s lives. It is a period when we make friends for life and enjoy our youth partying and having fun. So, it is obvious that when this time comes to an end, we look forward to the yearbook that we can always go back to and recall what life was when we lived the best years of it.

But what happens if your photo is not included in this precious book that marks one chapter of your existence? It must be heartbreaking to be the only person left out from the valuable “memento.” Sadly, a New Jersey high school, Watchung Hills Regional High School, failed to include a photo of Glenda, a student with special needs in the yearbook, and her sister Claudia DeFabio says it was done intentionally.

“While the faculty and staff who teach her and her classmates every day were acknowledged, Glenda was not,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

“Everyone in the special education department was acknowledged: except the students.”

Glenda’s mom was asked to sign a media release for her daughter, but no one ever mentioned the yearbook. The family felt devastated and angry because they didn’t know what to tell Glenda when she couldn’t find her photo in the book.

“Imagine the heartbreak my mother felt having to explain to my sister why she wasn’t in the yearbook. And Glenda not being able to understand how she was seen as different than her general education classmates.”

DeFabio felt the urge to share what happened to Glenda, because most of the time, people with special needs don’t stand for themselves.

The post gained a lot of attention and people showed their support. In no time, the family heard from the school and received an apology for leaving Glenda out. They offered to send a supplemental yearbook with Glenda’s photo in it.

“We are investigating what occurred and are currently looking to see if any other un-intentional omissions were made. We intend to carefully review our processes to avoid any erroneous omissions in the future,” said Elizabeth C. Jewett, superintendent of the school district, speaking to News 12 New Jersey.

“And finally, since the 2,500+ students and faculty didn’t get the honor of seeing Glenda’s yearbook photo, at least the internet can.”

We are truly sorry Glenda and her family had to go through such experience. Thankfully, this student has her sister by her side who wants Glenda to be accepted and loved for who she is.