ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The company that printed the Bartram Trail High School yearbooks that have come under fire for containing edited photos of dozens of female students is offering to pay for reprints, the St. Johns County School District confirmed Wednesday.
Anyone who wants a new copy of the yearbook that no longer contains at least 80 edited portraits of female students, which a school employee deemed to be in violation of the dress code, can return their yearbook by June 11 and they’ll get another free of charge. On Thursday, the district clarified that students who want to keep their old yearbook but still want a new one can call the school and submit the request form to have one ordered.
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The new, unedited yearbook will be expedited by yearbook vendor company Herff Jones, the district said.
The district sent emails to anyone who purchased a yearbook and gave them the option for a reprint, regardless if the yearbook had been written in or not.
Kevin O’Keefe’s daughter, Riley, was one of the students whose portrait was altered and who helped bring attention to dress code concerns.
“I think that it’s great. I think it called out to the youth to be a part of the movement,” Kevin O’Keefe said. “I don’t think without the national attention we would have gotten as far as we did.”
Kevin O’Keefe said the beauty product company Dove also made an offer to reprint without students returning their current yearbooks.
“Dove has offered to pay for all of the yearbooks to be reprinted, unedited, and they’ve contacted the school and the board multiple times, and they declined the offer to do that,” Kevin O’Keefe said.
The district said Herff Jones’ offer made more sense since the company already has the school’s files.
“I understand the reprints. I don’t understand handing them back. I think these kids already have their books, and after everything that happened and everything they’re fighting for, they probably want to keep the books,” Kevin O’Keefe said. “And they also have all the signatures from their friends.”
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The St. Johns County School District superintendent said last month the district plans to make changes to its yearbook editorial process following the incident, which made national headlines.
O’Keefe said he hopes something is learned from this in the long run.
“I think the biggest thing is, dress code is archaic. It is sexist. These girls are not speaking out of turn. They are being honest with how they feel. They should not be able to go to school and feel that way,” O’Keefe said.
The district is also exploring making sweeping changes to its dress code and getting input from students and parents during community meetings.
Parents told News4Jax they will have discussions about the student dress code on Thursday during the first community meeting with school board members.