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St. Johns County school superintendent apologizes over altered yearbook photos

WTLV-TV Jacksonville logo WTLV-TV Jacksonville 5/24/2021 First Coast News Staff, Mindy Wadley, Robert Bradfield
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The superintendent of St. Johns County Schools is offering an apology after dozens of girls' school pictures were digitally altered in the Bartram Trail High School yearbook over dress code concerns.

Many of the students say their shirts were edited to cover up their chests and shoulders. Several of them also told First Coast News they were never told the outfits they wore on picture day were out of dress code compliance.

"Certainly it would never be our intent to embarrass or call out kids or to do something that doesn't treat them with great respect," St. Johns County Schools Superintendent Tim Forson said. "So, the first thing is to apologize for the way this has played out."

A spokesperson from St. Johns County Schools said the choice to edit the photos was within the school district's policy, which states: 

"All images in ads and all individual student pictures must be consistent with the St. Johns County School District Student Code of Conduct or may be digitally adjusted." 

Forson said there was nothing the yearbook sponsor teacher did to deserve any disciplinary action.


Video: St. Johns County superintendent apologizes for 'way this has played out' over yearbook photo editing controversy (WTLV-TV Jacksonville)

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"It is something we need to be better, and we need to support her and how we move forward with it," Forson said. "But, it's not something that would cause discipline or employee discipline for this particular situation."

Parents who spoke to First Coast News said they were not notified the photos would be edited, and their students were never offered the opportunity for a re-take of their pictures.

 The school district did say the school is offering refunds to any parent who calls about the issue.

Students and parents said the edits are part of a larger dress code controversy in the county that disproportionately targets female students. Dozens of parents are reporting the same issue, and say this is sexualizing young girls.

"It is not our intent to embarrass or to shame any particular student.  Certainly, what we intended and what the result is are two different things," Forson said.

RELATED: 5 facts to know about the St. Johns County school yearbook controversy

RELATED: 'You've made them even more of a target': 83 high school girls have photos digitally altered to cover chest in St. Johns County yearbook

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