This year’s Computech Middle School yearbook is being reprinted after an eighth-grade teacher’s page was decorated with Confederate flags and a Ku Klux Klan symbol.
Fresno Unified said Monday the page was created by students who did not realize the symbols’ meanings, and that the teacher was not involved in the design.
A page dedicated to Kari Pruett, who teaches English and social studies at the school, features a red-and-white cross known as the primary symbol for the KKK. Referred to as the “Blood Drop” cross, it is classified as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
In addition, Pruett’s page includes two circular Confederate flags – also classified as a hate symbol. A California law passed in 2014 prohibits state agencies from displaying or selling the flag, which is associated with racism, slavery and Southern culture.
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The flags are symbols used in teaching students about our country’s history and absolutely do not reflect who I am as an individual or a teacher.
Computech Middle teacher Kari Pruett
In an email, Pruett said that this year, she taught about the Civil War – including a day dedicated to “re-enacting various components” of that era.
“While I was unfamiliar with one of the symbols myself, I truly believe students created this page to reflect what they’ve learned in class,” she said. “For me, the flags are symbols used in teaching students about our country’s history and absolutely do not reflect who I am as an individual or a teacher.”
FUSD spokesman Miguel Arias said the student who led the design “had no idea” of the negative meanings associated with the symbols. Computech Middle is an admission criteria school, meaning it only accepts students with high academic scores.
“Yearbooks are student-led and student-designed, and are a reflection of what students believe are key items learned that year. In this case, we didn’t catch the problem with the design until after it was printed, so we’ve taken swift action in order to reprint,” Arias said.
We apologize for the oversight that occurred in the yearbook publication and have taken immediate steps to ensure future student designs are reviewed for appropriate content as well.
Computech Principal Andrew Scherrer
Computech principal Andrew Scherrer apologized “for the oversight,” and Fresno Unified superintendent Bob Nelson issued a statement saying the district aims to give students firsthand experience by allowing them to guide the yearbook design.
“In this case, we regrettably failed the students in providing them the necessary guidance they needed along the way,” Nelson said. “We want to apologize sincerely for this mistake, as it does not reflect our district’s core value of diversity and inclusion.”
Students will be able to swap the original yearbooks for the reprint omitting the symbols at no charge.