Teacher strike art covered up in yearbook

MONTANA — At West High School in Billings, more than 900 copies of the yearbook were handed out to students before administrators halted distribution because of a cartoon about that school year’s teacher strike. 

The drawing depicts a woman holding a sign that reads “Strike Chicken Shmi…2002,” in reference to board of trustees Chair Stevie Schmitz. A teacher carried the sign during the 21-day strike in November 2002, said West High junior Riley Fleming.

Fleming said school officials told staff members of the Westward to place stickers over the text, “Chicken Shmi,” in more than 1,000 of the remaining copies to be distributed.

 Schmitz, whose son is currently a student at West High, said the edit made to the yearbook was not an attempt at censorship but rather an issue of good taste. 

“I feel strongly about students’ right to have free speech,” she said. “If it was in a publication that did not affect … my child there, I would not object.”