FLORIDA — A battle over a mistake in a yearbook jumpedinto the courthouse in May when a father sought an injunctionpreventing the yearbooks from being distributed until stickersbearing his daughter’s cheerleading picture could be added tothe team page.
A Brevard County judge declined to grant the injunction, butthe Satellite High School yearbook staff managed to affix thestickers to the yearbook minutes before they were passed out tostudents.
The problem began when the photos of two cheerleaders wereincorrectly identified as cheerleading captains, while the photoof the true captain, Christie Williams, was omitted. Cheerleadingsponsor Judy Coleman agreed to pay for corrective stickers beforethe yearbooks were distributed, according to Christie’s father,Keith Williams.
The night before the yearbooks were to be distributed to seniors,principal Mark Elliott said he called Williams and agreed to makethe fix before the yearbooks went out. But Williams wanted a guaranteethat all the books would be changed in time, something Elliottsaid was impossible.
The next morning, Williams, who is an attorney, sought an injunctionto force the school to stop distribution until all of the yearbookswere changed. Williams acknowledged there was no legal basis forthe injunction and said he probably would not have gone forwardwith the suit if the changes were not eventually made.
Elliott said there was never a question that the mistake wouldbe fixed, only when.
"We had like 40 people in there," Elliott said. "Everybodytook a case of books and we just all did it in twenty minutes."
Elliott said the injunction was unnecessary and that Williamsblew the situation out of proportion. He said students reactednegatively towards the cheerleader as a result of her father’saction.
"All the kids started getting mad at her," he said."They started ripping her page out, they had the stickerspulled back off, putting them on their forehead and sticking themaround campus."
Williams denied this, saying he never saw anyone tear out thepage. He said the controversy was limited to the yearbook staffand administrators until it was published in a local newspaper.
Yearbook adviser Mark Schledorn said he opposed making thechange and insisted the mistake was not the yearbook’s fault.He attributes the mistake to Coleman, who he said gave the yearbookthe wrong names.
"I said I’m concerned that if I let you do this, thenevery kid who comes down the pike who’s unhappy with the sidewe photographed of them or that their hair wasn’t right can askus to put crack and peel [stickers] over their pictures — evenif a mistake was not made," Schledorn said.
He said he believes Williams was using his position as a lawyerto bully school officials to make the change.
"The idea that somebody could use their position as alawyer to manipulate the publication into doing something wascertainly a little unnerving," Schledorn said. "Frommy point of view, that’s what he did."
If the yearbook finds itself in a similar situation again,Elliott pledged not to give in to a parent’s demands.
"Had the teacher not already gone out and bought the [stickers]and wanted to do it, I wouldn’t have done it," Elliott said."We had a long discussion about never doing that again."
Williams said he believes he did the right thing to protecthis daughter.
"If I had to do it over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat,"he said.