Officials at Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, have recalled their recently distributed school yearbooks after it was discovered the books described some students with special needs as "mentally retarded," KDFW-TV reports.
"Some of the disabilities the students in the Special Education Program have are being blind, deaf or non-verbal," school spokeswoman Laura Jobe told the station, describing the offending language.
According to KDFW, school officials confiscated the yearbooks after parents and students objected to the language and called it “appalling and disgraceful.”
“There was an oversight in the editing approval process,” Jobe told the Dallas Morning News. “Those who work inside the special education department know these requirements.”
Jobe told KDFW the school “earnestly regrets” the error, and that students should be getting their yearbooks back next week, though without the pages including the language.
Mesquite High School’s principal also plans to call the parents of the special needs students to apologize, and Jobe told the Dallas Morning News the district would never condone using the term “mentally retarded.”
The “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, which is sponsored by the Special Olympics, has made it their mission to eliminate the use of the “r-word” in schools and everyday life.
On the group’s website, Special Olympics athlete Karleigh Jones explains why the word is “old-fashioned” and offensive:
“The word retard is considered hate speech because it offends people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the people that care for and support them. It alienates and excludes them. It also emphasizes the negative stereotypes surrounding people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; the common belief that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be segregated, hidden away from society, which, in my opinion, is really old fashioned.”