INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 21, 2015)-- The yearbook is supposed to be a reminder of memories that will last forever. But at North Central High School, it’s a cause for major controversy after a former assistant swim coach's mugshot was published this year.
“I think a lot of people were surprised,” said North Central High School senior Will Andrews.
When he received his yearbook Wednesday, Andrews wasn’t expecting the mugshot of former assistant swim coach Matthew Carrington to be immortalized among the pages of his favorite high school memories.
“The way they just put it at the top was kind of distasteful. Especially, they use his mug shot… It’s something when people have a yearbook, they want to look back at with good memories and not think about the swim coach that seduced one of our students,” he said.
Carrington was fired in February when he was charged with child seduction. He got a shout out in the North Central High School yearbook in the “Off-Campus” section, on the same page as students playing with Legos.
“I think my kids would be going to a different school,” said one mom when she was asked what would happen if she’d seen Carrington’s picture in her son or daughter’s yearbook.
“Good times and only good times. Not nothing like that, oh my God… yeah, that’s not good. I wouldn’t want, no… they shouldn’t even put that in there,” said another mom.
“The yearbook teacher, he oversees it and I know kids write it themselves, but he oversees it and I guess the administration doesn't edit it or look at it,” said Andrews.
In a statement released by North Central High School Principal Evans Bryant Branigan, school administration sticks by the decision to have that mugshot in the yearbook:
North Central and Washington Township have a long history of supporting student publications by not practicing 'prior review' by school or district administration. In support of our student journalists, North Central Administration supports its student journalists, which includes the Yearbook Staff. Our student editors spent considerable time carefully researching news events which are reflected in the yearbook.
When adults in our building are accused of and/or convicted of a criminal activity, it is covered (as has been part of our editorial policy for more than 20 years).
We certainly understand that some will be unhappy with the decision to include or exclude certain images and events; however, North Central Administration supports its student editors.
This is a very different Branigan than the one that gave an interview with Blend Magazine in 2012. During that interview, he was asked if there are any topics student journalists shouldn’t cover.
“No. But when I say student journalists I’m not talking yearbook, because that’s different. A yearbook is someone’s long-lasting memory of the school. It’s supposed to be a celebration,” he responded.
Parents and students were also upset over the yearbook’s inclusion of a small description of the death of former North Central High School student Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig who was killed by ISIS militants in 2014.
For now, there are no plans to edit or recall the yearbook.