Bradfield Elementary Yearbook Gets Caught Up in a Scandal

People, I don’t make this stuff up. The following e-mail went out to parents of Bradfield students just a few minutes ago.

Dear Bradfield Parents,

The Bradfield yearbook will be printed and distributed during the last week of school. The book is full of many memorable moments from this school year, and we are all looking forward to the last day of school, when the children will have their traditional signing parties.

You may have seen a series of e-mails and an online petition regarding the Bradfield yearbook, and I am writing to answer questions about what occurred.

The yearbook is an annual PTA project that is handled by volunteers. The PTA works in partnership with me, as it is my responsibility to approve all the classroom pages. This year, the classroom pages were very different. They did not include candid pictures of every child, as had been the practice for many years. I told the volunteer that if there weren’t enough candids to include all the students, the pages could be redesigned to simply include the portraits and leave out the candids altogether so no children were excluded. The PTA offered to assist the volunteer with page redesign and photography, but those offers were rebuffed. Despite repeated requests, the volunteer did not follow through with the revisions. She eventually filed a copyright claim to the version of the book that she had designed, stating that the book was not to be altered in any way without her authorization.

Needless to say, the Bradfield PTA did not want to become involved in litigation over the school yearbook, and several PTA volunteers created a new yearbook. Our top priority was to be sure our children had a book to remember their school year. In addition, we needed to act as responsible stewards of Bradfield’s hard-earned PTA dollars and ensure that those limited funds were not tied up in litigation. The school district is supporting the PTA by taking on the role as the publishing entity.

We had all hoped to handle this situation quietly, but since it has become the subject of a public e-mail campaign, online petition and copyright claim, the situation has escalated. I felt each of our parents was owed a clear explanation.

In addition, several parents were sent a link to the original yearbook, and some have expressed concerns about their children’s pictures being published in this manner. We understand their concerns and will take steps to ensure our students’ pictures and information are protected in the future.

We will continue to take steps to avoid any future conflicts regarding copyright and ownership of school projects. Bradfield enjoys a long history of partnership with its PTA, and we appreciate the many hours that have been dedicated to making sure our students receive their yearbooks.

Respectfully,

Gloria McNutt

Bradfield Principal

By Merritt Patterson May. 4, 2010 | 4:09 pm | 15 Comments | Comments RSS
15 comments to "Bradfield Elementary Yearbook Gets Caught Up in a Scandal"
  1. A.B. @ May 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm
    I found the petition:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bradfieldyearbook/

    And thankfully it leads to the person who must be the ‘volunteer’ who now owns a copyright on the most notorious yearbook to come out of HPISD. Huzzah!

  2. Matt @ May 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm
    Awesome.

  3. Bubble Dame @ May 4, 2010 at 5:26 pm
    It is hard to believe such an uproar has been made over this in the first place!!! Who is she kidding when she (the original volunteer) states she was not given any guidance??? Did she ask? Did she look at previous books? Hard to believe the PTA would let her loose on such and important project without handing over something outlining the procedure!!! The yearbook is NOT about the “graphics”, it is about remembering our children’s time at Bradfield and they want to see the pictures – not all the “special graphics” she syas she spent over 100 hours on!!! If the book had been laid out the way it has been for the last 20 years (?) and then she had additional time to put in the “special graphics” – good for her!! Quit complaining about it and stirring the pot – fix it and be done!

    Everyone should know, if they volunteer for a position – which the level of parent involvement is one thing that makes HPISD such a great district – they have to play by the Principal & PTA rules!!! I have been on several PTA committee’s and volunteered countless hours and I know there is some sort of “notebook” and at the very least verbal guidance passed down to each incoming volunteer chariman.

    As for the book being published onto the internet under her pending copyright – how many of you parents gave her written permission to post your child’s picture AND name out there for the world to see??? If you were like me, you gave permission to HPISD for them to use my child’s name and photograph if needed – not an individual who is applying for a copyright for a book that was being done for an elementary school who essentially had the rights to the pictures for their use – not hers!!

    REALLY???????

  4. [...] have read Dr. McNutt’s e-mail. Now I have the e-mail that The Volunteer sent out to the Bradfield room moms with a request for [...]

  5. citygirl @ May 4, 2010 at 5:40 pm
    The original email that got circulated and started the whole thing

    Dear Bradfield Families:

    I am so sorry to say that the yearbook that I spent countless hours on will not be distributed to you. As the book was about to go to print, I was informed that the adorable candid pictures on the classroom pages were not allowed, unless every child from the class was in the picture. Thus, destroying the integrity of the whole design that I have been working on since last summer. My options were to either start all over or leave big holes in those pages—both options above and beyond what should ever be asked of a volunteer.

    I certainly would not have created a design in the first place, if I could have foreseen issues—but there were no guidelines given to me on this at all.

    Then, I had very few people submit candid photos and I sent out a slew of photo requests. I even made numerous phone calls and took many photos myself. Bottom line, I used almost every single photo that was usable/available, somewhere in the yearbook.

    Due to the number of candids available, I decided to make the school portraits larger—leaving only a small space for candids. Neverthless, the candids included on the class pages are what makes the yearbook so endearing. I truly put together the best product possible, with what I had to work with.

    I’m baffled that the slim possibility of offending someone, especially when they were given numerous opportunities to participate, outweighs hurting those of us that work so hard for the school and our children.

    Needless to say, Yearbook Chair is a huge job for one person—and it was ONE PERSON. But those of you that know me, know that I take on projects whole-heartedly. I spent at least 20 hours creating the plaid background and at least 80 hours creating all of the Bronco characters. I’ve never spent so much time on a project in my life, and I would at least like to share it with those that were meant to enjoy. I’m very proud of it and very sad that it will not come home in your child’s backpack.

    If you would like to view/download the yearbook, go to:

    I am leaving off the link because like Bubble Dame says the kid’s pics should not be put out there and because I don’t want to be “outing” anyone. I will say that when the petition part of all this came around it was not made clear that there were copyright things going on. I think it just worried people that the yearbook wouldn’t come out period. And that it would cost the PTA $18,000.

  6. AD @ May 5, 2010 at 2:38 am
    Another HP nut bag. Can’t get along in the car pool lines so why wouldn’t there be conflict in publishing a yearbook. Does any adult who looks back on their yearbooks ever talk about the graphics or design? It’s only about the photos. Sometimes parents need to set their egos aside and concern themselves with what’s best for the children.

  7. Gagree @ May 5, 2010 at 8:46 am
    I was really confused when I first read the letter from Dr. McNutt yesterday. She didn’t give any background on the situation for those parents like myself that were not aware of what was going on. After reading both emails, I think both sides are at fault. The schoold should have NEVER given total authority to one person to come up with the yearbook. There should have been progress checks along the way. There should have been candid photos of all kids taken by either teachers or volunteers.

    And the volunteer should have used previous yearbooks as a guide. If the school had issues with the pictures, then she should have made adjustments. And we downloaded the digital version last night…the graphics are nice, but yearbooks are about kids remembering the school year. Time spent on creating graphics are no reason for this volunteer to act like a child herself.

    In the end, the overzealous mother should have turned her work over to the PTA to do whatever modifications needed to be done. She doesn’t “win” by copyrighting this book. And the kids are going to lose by having a revised crappy yearbook thrown together at the very last minute.

    Piss poor on both sides.

  8. A.B. @ May 5, 2010 at 9:46 am
    @Gagree–I totally agree. What does it say about the school and the parents when the PTA, principal and volunteer can’t come together to form a solution in a timely and mature manner. How hard is it to go into each classroom, snap a few casual pics of whoever was left out and add them to the mix? Why can’t the volunteer let it go–this yearbook isn’t about her amazing graphic design abilities. If she is so tied up in being recognized for work of that nature she needs to get a full-time job. The PTA should have a way to access the yearbook while it is in progress so they can check up on how it is going, offer guidance and catch something like this before it goes too far.

    I can already see new district policy on yearbooks for next year: One standard photo of each child, period. They must all be wearing white, collared shirts so no one stands out. No casual shots. A committee of at least a dozen.

  9. AD @ May 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm
    Can you imagine the complaints by the parents because they didn’t like their child’s “candid” shot? That would open a new can of worms.

  10. girlsmom @ May 5, 2010 at 7:51 pm
    Having done the Yearbook with two other co-chairs at Armstrong, I can only wonder how she did the whole thing on her own…..each class at Armstrong has at least two volunteers to put together a “class page” that includes photos of all the kids in the class. The photos are requested from the parents or taken by the volunteers. Scrapbooking at its best! These are then turned into the Memory Book volunteers and that is the class page opposite the official school photos. I am grateful for all the volunteers and the school staff at our elementary, and wish the best outcome for all of you Bradfield families…

  11. M @ May 6, 2010 at 11:28 am
    I want to agree with James Tucker’s comment on the yearbook post that followed this one. He states that we should stop treating our elementary children like high schoolers. Yes–Bradfield has a disco dance for 4th graders, which is intended to be an age-appropriate, group activity. For all the parents that encouraged their children to get dates for the dance, get a reality check!

  12. peterk @ May 6, 2010 at 1:28 pm
    an elementary school year book??????? come on folks get a life

  13. Avid Reader @ May 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm
    So this petition has lost some members…had 12 yesterday, now they only have 11 and that includes Sue Ann and some guy who signed twice= 9 signers + Sue Ann.

  14. [...] been working on this bit of what is sure to go down in history as one of the top ten most ridiculous Parkie moments. Ever.  [...]

  15. [...] Bradfield Elementary is a school in Highland Park ISD. On May 4, their principal sent out an email to all parents regarding the 2009-2010 yearbook. [...]

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