Students Told To Appear Or Be Excluded From Yearbook.
Appears To Violate Several Palm Beach County School District Policies.
Mandate Issued As District Reports 264 COVID Cases, 12 At Calusa Elementary School.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
UPDATE: 4:10 p.m: Palm Beach County School District issued statement, now added to story.
UPDATE: 3:58 p.m. Friday, October 30, 2020: Shutterfly/Lifetouch Spokeswoman Heather Wilson reached out. Her quote has been added to the story.
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — In an apparent violation of Palm Beach County School District policy, including bans on visitors and discrimination against students, schools across Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach are requiring that students attend “photo days” with Lifetouch studios in November. In an email sent to parents Friday from one Boca Raton elementary school, parents were told that children who do not attend the photo session will be excluded from the 2020-2021 yearbook.
BocaNewsNow.com has learned that similar emails have been sent, or will be sent, from other schools in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.
The Palm Beach County School District reported 264 COVID cases on Friday, including 12 at Calusa Elementary School.
“The Fall Picture is what is utilized for our yearbook,” wrote one Boca-area school to parents on Friday. “By opting out of fall pictures, I understand my child’s picture will not be in the yearbook. School dress code is to be followed for pictures.”
Palm Beach County School District spokesperson Claudia Shea told BocaNewsNow.com that one of the schools in question uses Lifetouch for photos but not for yearbook creation, while other schools use Lifetouch for both. The school that uses Lifetouch for photos, but not the yearbook, is now checking to see if photos can be uploaded to the company that produces their yearbook.
“No policies are being broken,” said Shea. “Visitors and vendors are allowed on campus if they make an appointment. Yearbook photos are voluntary this year as they are every year.”
While Shea says no policy is being broken, telling “distance learners” to appear in school, or be excluded from a yearbook, is a discriminatory practice. Students at some schools are not being given the option to upload a digital photo even though Lifetouch is owned by Shutterfly [NASDAQ:SFLY], a company known for its ability to accept photos online.
After we first published this article, Lifetouch/Shutterfly responded to say that decision is made by the school or the school district.
“The rule is not set by us,” said Lifetouch/Shutterfly spokesperson Heather Wilson, “it’s set by the school. As far as we operate, students can upload portraits or candids.”
Roughly two thirds of the school district’s 180,000 student population are learning from home. Among those distance learners: students in families considered “high risk” for COVID. Forcing these students to school for a photo could put their family member’s lives at risk — but excluding them from a yearbook is a decision they will be stuck with for a lifetime.
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