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Students get yearbooks with N-word on the cover

SAN DIEGO -- Some middle schoolers are learning that history isn't always meant to be celebrated after the N-word was inadvertently printed on the front cover of their yearbooks.

The racial slur appeared in an historical map chosen as a background image by book editors and staff at Black Mountain Middle School at 9353 Oviedo Street in San Diego.

"In using an historical map from the 1800's of northern San Diego County, our staff and yearbook editors inadvertently used a background image for the cover of this year's yearbook containing a highly offensive racial term," principal Charan Kirpalani wrote in a letter to parents. "This was a reference to an area of San Diego County on Palomar Mountain which was once known as the home of a freed slave, and referred to with a very derogatory label."

The mistake got noticed Monday, after students got their yearbooks. Staff members quickly collected about 1,000 books and scratched out the offensive word by hand.

"Literally, staff went through each yearbook and scratched off that word from the cover so that we can get these yearbooks in time to our kids," Poway Unified School District Communications Director Christine Paik said.

The corrected yearbooks will be distributed to students Wednesday.

The following statement was sent to parents: 

In using an historical map from the 1800's of northern San Diego County, our staff and yearbook editors  inadvertently used a background image for the cover of this year's yearbook containing a highly offensive racial term. This was a reference to an area of San Diego County on Palomar Mountain which was once known as the home of a freed slave, and referred to with a very derogatory label. We deeply regret this error and have recalled all yearbooks distributed to grade 8 students and will delay distributing the books to our grade 6 and 7 students. We understand how important the yearbooks are to our students and are working on getting their memories to them. We are making the correction and will redistribute the yearbooks as soon as possible. Please contact us with any concerns. I am available, along with our counselors and district staff should any parent or student wish to discuss this matter and our school and district response to this regrettable incident.

-Charan Kirpalani, Principal