Seniors say their quotes were censored in school's yearbook

Seniors say their quotes were censored in school's yearbook
Original version of Coon's quote (Photo provided to WBTV)
Original version of Coon's quote (Photo provided to WBTV)
Photo provided to WBTV
Photo provided to WBTV

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A couple of high school seniors are speaking out after they say their "Senior Quotes" were censored in the school's yearbook.

When Piedmont Community Charter School, in Gaston County, gave out the school's yearbook last week two seniors had lines of Sharpie next to their photos where their senior quote was slated to be.

"I just felt it could have been handled so much better than just marking it out with a Sharpie," senior Julianna Coon said. "They could've approached me and I would've happily changed it. But it's the fact that they distributed the yearbooks and didn't seem to have remorse until they saw reactions."

Coon said her quote was something the principal of the school reportedly said to her.

"He said it as a joke and I quoted it as a joke," she said.

WBTV obtained an uncensored version of Coon's quote, which was printed in the school's yearbook before being marked out.

"We're letting you graduate early because we didn't want you here a full year. - School Administration"

"[The head of the school] decided the quote was offensive and pulled the yearbook students out of whatever class they were in, made them go through every yearbook and mark through my quote," Coon said.

"They said considering it's a book that K-12 will be receiving it was marked out because the kids wouldn't understand the sarcasm," she added. "But what if I hadn't gotten the sarcasm from the comment when it was said to me? It was understandably a joke."

WBTV contacted several school administrators about the marked out quotes in the yearbook.

Jennifer Purdee, Piedmont Community Charter School's Head of School, called the situation an "editing oversight."

"There was an editing oversight at the time the yearbook went to print," Purdee said. "The decision was made to mark out the inappropriate comments instead of withholding the yearbooks from being distributed. The comments were not representative of the school's core values."

Another teenager, Frances Quinn, says her quote was marked out and she was told it was because it "reflected poorly on the school."

"I'm honestly not sure how," Quinn said. "I initially wasn't going to put a quote and then I think I gave them one that they disapproved of so I gave them that one."

Quinn says her quote - which was marked out - called Mahatma Gandhi a racist.

"Which he, in fact, was at one point. My reason for putting it was that he was a well-renowned philosopher that so many people looked up to, but not unlike everyone else he had his prejudices and wasn't perfect," she said.

Quinn says one of her teachers pulled her aside and told her that her quote wasn't appropriate and then handed her a yearbook.

"I was pretty apathetic at first because my first thought was 'Wow, this is typical for Piedmont'," she said, "Then I thought 'how unprofessional'."

WBTV reached back out to Purdee and asked about the process for getting quotes approved and printed in the yearbook, but has not received a response.

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