N.Y. principal, upset with yearbook cover, will not let student attend graduation

NEW YORK — Whitesboro High School senior Kathleen Sullivanwill not walk with the rest of her class Saturday at graduationafter a controversy surrounding questionable content in art shedrew for her student yearbook.

Senior Kathleen Sullivan was suspended five days and not allowed to attend graduation for the yearbook cover she drew that includes subtle references to drugs and alcohol. (Click for larger image.)
An inside page contains a reference to principal Curt Woodcock that has the words “is a fag” imbedded below his name on the desk. (Click for larger image.)

Principal Curt Woodcock handed Sullivan, the yearbook’s arteditor, a five-day suspension after she refused to apologize forthe outer space-themed cover of the book that contains subtlereferences to drugs and alcohol, her father John Sullivan said. Students and administrators were also upset about a sketch onan inside page that contains the hidden words “a fag,”referring to Woodcock.

“She’s just a kid who did a stupid thing,” John Sullivansaid.

Her father said that while the words were in the drawing, theywere misinterpreted. He said his daughter apologized verballyto Woodcock, and then offered him three written letters of apologythat he refused to accept because they were too vague. The artistalso apologized to the adviser, faculty, students and yearbookstaff.

Woodcock then offered John Sullivan a letter of apology Wednesdaymorning for his daughter to sign, accepting responsibility forthe cover.

“We had a talk and I said ‘Honey, it’s time for you tomake a decision. Do you want to walk or do you want to sell yourintegrity?’ ” her father said. “And she said, ‘I don’twant to walk bad enough to admit to something that he thinks thatI meant through this and I didn’t mean. I mean something entirelydifferent, and I can’t apologize for that.’ “

Kathleen Sullivan will not be allowed to participate in graduationor be near the graduation site, her father said. She will notpursue the matter in court.

Whitesboro students have been protesting the administration’saction against Sullivan since Monday, spray painting walls andbaseball field grass with similar derogatory phrases about schoolofficials and bringing small animals to school, the Utica Observer-Dispatchreported. Police cited one student for “mooning” traffic.

Woodcock and yearbook adviser Janice Zarnock could not be reachedfor comment.

“I’m fiercely proud of this kid,” her father said.”She knew when she did something inappropriate and in badtaste and she apologized for it, more than anybody in the worldwould have, and then she stood up for her principles.”

“Either you stand for something or you stand for nothing,”he continued. “Admit when you’re wrong, and when you thinkyou’re right, stand up for it.”

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