Claudia DeFabio is the 25-year-old sister of Glenda, a high school student with Down syndrome. DeFabio wrote an emotional Facebook post this week that has since gone viral in which she said that Glenda’s high school had neglected to include her photo in the yearbook, according to Today.
In the post, Claudia explained that her little sister and parents were shocked and dismayed to find that she was not included in the yearbook for her school, Watchung Hills Regional High School of New Jersey. They were confused because Glenda had not missed picture day and her mother had signed a form granting permission for her photo to be published in the yearbook alongside all the rest of her classmates.
Claudia went on to say that all of Glenda’s teachers in the special needs department were listed and acknowledged in the yearbook, but Glenda was not. Glenda’s name did not even appear in the index of the book, listing her as a student that attended the school. Claudia accused the school of discrimination, noting that like her sister, other special needs students were left out altogether as well.
Claudia expressed how upset her mother had been upon having to try to explain to Glenda why her photo did not appear in the yearbook with everyone else. She included Glenda’s school photo, saying that she felt it deserved to be seen by others.
“Individuals with special needs often cannot advocate for themselves, and subsequently, get overlooked. I am speaking out for Glenda and every other student who was cast aside merely due to differences in ability. Silence is compliance. And finally, since the 2,500+ students and faculty didn’t get the honor of seeing Glenda’s yearbook photo, at least the internet can,” she wrote.
The post took the internet by storm, earning 21,000 shares on Facebook alone and led to major backlash for the school. Claudia later posted an update on the situation, explaining that she had received word that a new yearbook would be published including all students.
“They are going to send out a supplemental yearbook that is inclusive of all the students as well as consult with the yearbook committee to ensure that all students will be represented going forward,” she wrote.
Claudia thanked everyone who spoke out and shared the post with the intention of advocating for Glenda.
This is not the first time a New Jersey school has received backlash for their treatment of special needs children, as The Inquisitr previously reported. In 2019, the mother of one student with Down syndrome sued her child’s school because the child was asked to leave prom early.