TUSD Sabino High censors tape up yearbook

tusd-yearbookWhen the students of Sabino High School opened up their new yearbooks they were surprised to find little patches of black and yellow duct-type tape scattered across the pages. According to sources, the censors in Sabino’s administration must have scrambled to cover the ten “offensive” comments offered by mostly seniors with tape in time for graduation day.

As a result of the timely taping, students did not get a chance to pass their yearbooks around to their friends to collect signatures and more memories. Only after students had been dispersed like dandelion seeds in the summer breeze, did they discover that the $75 they spent on their timeless treasure included tape that would tear their tome if removed.

Once removed, it was difficult for recipients to ascertain what standards were employed by censors to determine which comments were unfit for high school students’ consumption. In a District which is determined to do as much as possible to divide children by race, it came as no surprise that the school’s administration would have covered a comment left by a Latina student which read, “Every Mexican needs a white best friend.” Her best friend’s comment could not be seen under the black tape that was stuck over it, but only can only imagine what it read.

Some speculate the comment might be something along the lines of ‘Every white person needs a Mexican best friend.”

Sanchez informed board member that he was getting copies of the book “with racist and unacceptable passages highlighted. Only in TUSD could the girls’ comments be considered racist, but apparently they were.

When asked about the censorship, TUSD’s Superintendent H.T. Sanchez did not define unacceptable. The District could employ United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who developed the test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio; you know it when you see it.

That test may have been employed to censor the comment left by one student who wrote, “Come getcha some –Turtleman,” if Turtleman is a well-known porn gimmick or star. Otherwise, the unacceptable nature of “Turtleman” comment was lost on everyone but the censors. Readers could not fathom why the comment earned the duct tape seal of disapproval.

turtlemanSome readers were shocked that TUSD administration did not cover at least one reference to God. However, they feel certain that had it been give the once over by the District’s central office administration, it would have been gone.

While the tolerated God, they found some metaphors to be unacceptable. One girl’s comment that she was “drunk on you and high on summer time” earned her the black tape of shame.

But it is the failure of the administration at the central office and at the school site that has at least two Governing Board members asking questions after they were contacted by students and parents. Board member Michael Hicks wants to know why the school would feel the need to censor such innocuous comments.

“It is inappropriate,” said Board member Michael Hicks. “We don’t know what the school administration was thinking but this does not seem fair to the seniors of Sabino High School. We fought hard to stop teachers from imposing their world view in our other schools’ classrooms. It should be wrong for all of our professionals. They paid $75 for a book and they put tape all over it.

Nothing I have read warrants what they have done. I think the District should apologize or give the kids their money back. The principal should have reviewed this before it went to the printer. If it offends his sensibilities for whatever reason, those reasons should be articulated to the students, and adults should have talked to them about their objections beforehand.”

TUSD board member Mark Stegeman said, “If the high school intended to censor the students’ quotations in the yearbook, then they should have done that before they sent it to the printer. As it is, the students got less than what they paid for, and they got it very late and missed the opportunity for inscriptions that is a big part of what makes the yearbook meaningful.”

Related articles:

TUSD works to move desegregation money away from classrooms

TUSD audit shows Governing Board, administration failures

Sanchez indicts Tucsonans as bigots



  1. Jesu…

    I had better check my son’s yearbook from Santa Rita (self-centered, I know, but I took a good look only where he had pictures…)

    There are terms for this kind of behavior. They are “vandalism” and “destruction of private property.”

  2. I was one of 3 students who spent time covering the books with tape. Previous to the book being sent in to the printers, neither the principal nor the vice principal sought to edit or look over the book. The principal almost didn’t allow the book to be published because yearbook didnt add in a spread that acknowledged Sabino’s blue ribbon award (the principal never asked or informed the yearbook committee how important it was for him to have that certain spread in the yearbook). It seems as though he found the most ridiculous and unoffensive quotes in the yearbook to consider “obscene” simply because he was upset that he didnt get a blue ribbon spread. He yelled and thoroughly admonished the yearbook editors and made it pretty clear that if we were to leak the real quotes, it wouldn’t be a fun time for us. When I asked him why it was okay to hand out academic awards only to Mexicans but two best friends celebrating each others ethnicities was not okay, he had no response. The principal made the yearbook editors cry multiple times and in the end never thanked the staff for their hard work and dedication to the school and their yearbook.

    • “The principal made the yearbook editors cry multiple times….”

      I’m sorry the yearbook editors had to go through that but try and understand that there are many good authority figures in the world in spite of this bad example. You can learn to forgive (but not condone) which will allow you to move on with a life of happiness leaving the yellers stomping around in circles (far behind you.)

    • Rachel, I have been an EIC in the past and what I learned that year is that I couldn’t rely on anyone. The advisor was great, but if there was a mistake that was my name on the book. My staff counted on me to find their mistakes, and I did. If something seemed even a little off to me it didn’t go in the book which may seem harsh but it saved us from a situation similar to yours. If you are going to be in yearbook again next year I strongly urge you to censor everything and think to yourself “Would I say this to my grandmother?” I know and understand that the grandmother idea doesn’t always work but it is a good way to weed out the good from the bad. I can’t tell you how many hours I went through senior quotes (my entire spring break) but not one of them was bad by the end. You may feel you are the victim here but sadly I would have to say that as a high school student your judgement should have been a bit better (or the EIC, whoever that is) so this situation could have been avoided.

      • Abby, I am very proud of you for being so honest in your comments! After teaching yearbook for 25 years, I have to say I agree with what you shared. All of my editors took their jobs very seriously and functioned as you did. The EIC should be the censor for the yb staff and students who don’t always use good judgment. Then finally, the yb adviser should do the follow-up.

        When the staff and adviser deal with such things effectively in house, there is less of a chance that an outsider (administrators/their representative) will censor what you have. They (as we all should realize) have prior review rights.

        What a shame that they damaged all of those books. There certainly are better ways to make those corrections.

  3. it’s a teachable moment…. every single student should go down the court house and file a small claims action for destruction of private property. $75 plus court costs. those books didn’t belong to the school. they were bought and paid for by the students. the schools job was done when it was sent to the publisher. just because they were too lazy to check beforehand doesn’t mean they can then vandalize private property after the fact. it’s a teachable moment for the administration. oh, and the money shouldn’t come out of the school’s funding, it should come straight out of the administrators/principals wallet.

  4. Governor Brewer why are you not firing these poor excuses for teachers and school staff? why are we allowing anyone to violate our free speech rights as spelled out in our constitution. we as Americans should be outraged and fed up with all this progressive crap being forced upon our nation. its about time we show these losers the door. let the pick the communist country of their choice to live in. America and Americans will never bow down to your violations of our constitution. it is a crime to violate the constitutionally protected rights of Americans. its time they faced charges for it.

  5. Is there a mechanism within the state allowing for vote to dissolve a school district and create a new district(s) to take its place. It’s clear that TUSD has to go; the board, the administration, the bureaucracy and most importantly, the culture.

  6. I feel for Rachel and she brings up and excellent point. Last year at my son’s graduation (different HS), they awarded the “Presidential Awards for Educational Excellence.” Every recipient of that award was Hispanic (and no, this was not a school with high minority enrollment). At every other level of graduation I had never seen that award race based. Does anybody else out there feel that racism is once again becoming institutionalized?

  7. Refund = You can bring the yearbook back for a full refund but the book isn’t yours to keep!

  8. My son Caden was also one that had to place the tape. Rachel did as she was instructed by her teacher who was instructed by administration. Publication was approved by admin and then sent off to the printers. There was no prank, and Mr. Knutson did nothing wrong. Administration overreacted to comments made by senior students and hypocritically chose what was to be censored. If as was said in another article it was an intentional prank, who pulled the prank? The kids worked hard on this yearbook and were very proud when it was sent off. There was no foul language, finger gestures, and acknowledging a race as a friend is a compliment, not racism. Once again, Administration has stepped over the line and is now trying to put blame on the Teacher and Students.

    • I saw that joke of an “article.” The Red Star prints whatever any left-wing organization (such as a public high school) tells them to, especially if the “story” is accompanied by a coverup wink and a nod. A valuable lesson for young folks in High School.

      After years of reading the newspaper as a child, teen and young adult (trusting the information) it was quite a shock to realize how often they lied and why. It’s actually a blessing in disguise that they find out now.

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