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11-22-02: Resident wants board to give yearbook refunds
Parkway dad says publication full of innuendo; wants plan put in place to review future yearbooks

The Daily Standard
    ROCKFORD - Parkway Local Schools officials are preparing to deal with the fallout of a district's resident's allegation that the 2001-2002 yearbook is rife with improper material.
    Mitch Flaugher, who aired his concerns earlier this week at the regular monthly school board meeting, told The Daily Standard on Thursday that school officials have formed a committee to consider Flaugher's recommended action.
    Flaugher wants the district to offer refunds to anyone who wants their money back and for an admission of "assumed responsibility," by the board. Flaugher also said he wants a "clean" yearbook published and an investigation launched to develop long-term plans for reviewing yearbook content.
    School officials were "very cooperative" and "receptive" to his concerns, Flaugher said.
    High school Principal Bill Steinbrunner said this morning that a four-person committee met with Flaugher on Thursday and will meet again in about a week to continue discussion on the issue. When asked he if finds the yearbook to be acceptable, Steinbrunner said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the issue at this time.
    Steinbrunner said he has not fielded any other complaints about the yearbook since Monday evening's school board meeting.
    School board member Jeff Long also said he has not heard much from concerned parents since Monday. He admitted, though, that many adults might not have even been aware of the objectionable material until Flaugher spoke at the meeting and the allegations were detailed in Tuesday's Daily Standard after the newspaper obtained a copy of the yearbook.
    "I think most people want to make sure it doesn't happen again," Long said.
    The yearbook is the subject of at least one letter to the editor that is to appear in Saturday's edition of The Daily Standard.
    Although there does not seem to be an overwhelming public outcry over the issue, Flaugher insists he is not alone.
    "I don't want to have to petition the town, but absolutely, I know I'm not alone," Flaugher said.
    In a letter he read to school board members Monday, Flaugher detailed several instances of inappropriate pictures and language throughout the annual - which is intended for all students grades preschool through high school seniors.
    "My daughter deserves a yearbook. This is not going to be the yearbook she gets," said Flaugher, who has two children, ages 4 and 9.
    School officials have offered Flaugher a refund of the $35 purchase price, but he has not taken the refund yet. He said he plans to hold onto the book for awhile to use it as a reference in his ongoing dispute with the school district.
    Flaugher said he does not know how school officials might handle his requests. There are many questions surrounding whether the yearbook can be republished to suit those offended by its existing content.
    Steinbrunner said the yearbook is put together over the course of an entire school year. A class of students meets daily to work on the yearbook, he said. Groups of pages are periodically sent to the publisher based on deadlines, he said. By the end of the year, the book is completed and can be printed in its entirety.
    Some people also have suggested that Parkway could avoid future conflicts by publishing multiple yearbooks for different grade levels. Flaugher said he has heard that idea, but said it still would not work. Some of the objectionable material is not even appropriate for high school students, he said.
    "I do believe it's to that point," Flaugher said. "As long as this book goes in a public library, then I don't think it really would solve the problem."
    Flaugher said he also wants school board members to take a more active stance on issues. There was little discussion among board members after Flaugher spoke Monday.
    "Get off the fence," Flaugher said. "Don't be afraid to say what is and what is not appropriate."


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