Amanda Paeth, a Connecticut high school senior with autism, has “beat the odds,” as her mother says, by getting her driver’s license, working while in high school, and graduating on time. However, Paeth’s accomplishments have been overshadowed by the fact that she was completely excluded from her school’s 2017 yearbook.
According to news station WTNH, the yearbook staff at Mark T. Sheehan High School in Wallingford, Connecticut, omitted Paeth from the book entirely, in her class’ senior photos, their senior quotes, and in her class’ baby photos.
“This is not right. You guys got every other kid but me. I basically gave the teacher my book and I walked out of school. You guys could keep it,” Paeth said.
Paeth’s mother, Jeannine Kremzar, says the book is created by students but checked by faculty. Five days after first reporting the issue, she received a call from the principal claiming it was a genuine mistake, and that faculty was more concerned with getting rid of inappropriate quotes and spelling errors.
However, Paeth and Kremzar said the senior had been bullied in the past, and wonder if the exclusion was intentional.
“She was singled out of a lot of things and she missed out on a lot of things because of it, because people just did not understand, [the] administration didn’t understand, [her] peers didn’t understand,” Kremzar said. “Nobody took the time to get to know her.”
The school has offered to rectify the problem by making Paeth’s photo into a sticker to be included at the end of the senior photos, but because yearbooks have already been distributed, Kremzar isn’t sure other students will have their books fixed. So far, Paeth’s was the only one corrected, and she wrote in her senior quote herself.
Paeth hopes that no other students have to go through the heartbreak that she did.
“[People with autism] still function like you guys. We still do clubs. We still do sports. We still go to classes like you. We still learn,” Paeth said. “That’s really it, it’s just that one small thing.”