(AZCentral.com) - Two Mesa High School yearbook pages devoted to students who have children or who are expectant parents have prompted angry calls from parents to the school principal.
Pages 40 and 41 of the school's 255-page yearbook, Superstition Vol. 105, feature the photos and a description of how difficult it is to raise children and attend high school at the same time. The pages are titled "I'm working a double shift."
Principal Jim Souder spent time Monday fielding calls from parents who questioned the wisdom of including photos of expectant students and student parents along with images of students who had won awards or served in school clubs.
He declined to speak with 12 News and The Republic or share information about how many calls the school received.
Mesa Public Schools spokeswoman Helen Hollands said the photos are not what the school district expects from high school yearbooks.
"A yearbook is to commemorate the achievements of the students, particularly the senior class," she said. "Probably this would not fall into that category."
Asked to characterize the level of some parents' concerns about the yearbook, Hollands said "outrage" would be too strong a word. She also said she does not expect Mesa High or the school district to change any official policies about what can be included in yearbooks and what can't.
Mesa High is not the only school in the nation to be caught in such a controversy. Schools in Michigan and North Carolina this year have banned photos of pregnant students and of students holding their children.
Parent Kathee Merkley has both a 17-year-old daughter and a foreign exchange student enrolled as seniors at Mesa High this year. She didn't call to complain, but she said the yearbook pages have generated discussion among her friends and family — and not any of it has been positive.
She said a group of Mesa High teens in her home recently made statements like, "I already glued the pages together in my yearbook" and "Not appropriate for a high school yearbook."
Merkley said she was troubled by the image of a male student embracing the belly of a pregnant female student.
"When you look at the pages at first you think it is of a child development class," she said. "But then if you look closer you see the photo of the boy hugging the belly. I think that was unnecessary."
Other parents interviewed outside Mesa High say the yearbook pages just reflect a new norm. And Mesa schools governing board president Mike Hughes and member Ben Whiting,who attended Mesa High School and still lives in the area, said they had not heard any complaints about the yearbook.
Hollands noted that Mesa High is "100 percent behind" the expectant students and students who are parents and support their academic accomplishments.