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Calif. Middle School Officials Say N-word Discovered On Yearbook Covers Was ‘Honest Mistake’

The administration at a San Diego, Calif.-area middle school was left scrambling recently to correct an alarming yearbook error: the n-word printed on the cover.

Hundreds of copies were distributed to eighth-graders at Black Mountain Middle School Monday, June 5, and it was the students brought the error to the attention of officials, who said it was an honest mistake.

“It’s not appropriate in an eighth-grade yearbook. It’s unfortunate,” says Darlene Willis to NBC 7 San Diego. Willis is a parent of two former Black Mountain students and a current member of the Concerned Parents Alliance. “[We should be] making sure that those folks that are in charge of things like this, that they read and re-read, double check, triple check so that doesn’t happen again. Not in 2017. We can’t go back again in time.”

The n-word appears on an 1800s map of northern San Diego County and is written near “Palomar Mountain,” which was the home of formerly enslaved Nate Harrison. Eighth-graders were asked to bring their books back to school the next day and employees spent two hours scratching off the racial epithet from more than 1,000 covers, including those books not yet distributed to sixth- and seventh-graders.

“I don’t think that it needs to be re-printed,” says Martha Parham, who also is a member of the parents alliance. “But I do believe that if they do remove it, it needs to be totally explained to kids why.”

The school, which reissued the yearbooks Wednesday, said in a statement that the error was regretted “deeply” and Poway Unified School District said counselors are available for students who wish to discuss the incident.

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