Texas School District Reviews Parents' Concerns Over 'BLM' Yearbook Cover, Teacher on Leave

A yearbook for a middle school in Lewisville, Texas, has sparked controversy as its back cover was designed with Black Lives Matter art and other major events that have taken place in the last year.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Downing Middle School art teacher Kayla Mick is on leave after she approved the cover art designed by her eighth grade students for their yearbook. The cover had phrases including "I can't breathe" and "Black Lives Matter" designed on it.

The yearbook, published this month, was given a theme titled, "We Stick Together," and the young designers collaborated by including a collage of stickers for the front and back covers that detailed "life in 2020-21."

This 2021 yearbook is causing a lot of controversy in Flower Mound.

Many parents & students are upset after seeing a #BlackLivesMatter & #icantbreathe sticker on the yearbook.

An art teacher has been placed on administrative leave, after so many parents have been complaining. pic.twitter.com/ogOECDTA1n

— Malini Basu (@MaliniBasu_) May 24, 2021

Stickers like Disney Plus' popular Star Wars series The Mandalorian, Starbucks, TikTok, and a video game "Among Us" surrounded the "I can't breathe" sticker. The other controversial sticker had the quote, "science is real, Black lives matter, no human is illegal, love is love, women's rights are human rights, kindness is everything" on it.

Downing Middle School Principal Curt Martin, in a letter to parents after complaints began trickling in, said that none of the stickers "evoked a political message for me, but rather a documentation of the issues we face as a campus, a community and a nation."

On behalf of the school, Martin offered full refunds of the yearbook and alternative stickers that can be placed over the controversial ones, so that the students can keep theirs if it already had signatures in it, reported WFAA.

Lewisville Independent School District (LISD) has put Mick on paid administrative leave while they look into the parents' concerns, but spokesperson Amanda Brim stated that it would be "inaccurate" to say Mick was put on leave because of the parental complaints.

Brim told The Dallas Morning News: "It is our best hope that all of our teachers connect with students in a way that makes them feel safe and creates a sense of belonging in every classroom. Having said that, we expect staff to remain neutral while engaging students in these conversations, in accordance with district policy."

Martin also promised in another letter to parents that he will be more aware of his "duty to remain neutral."

A petition was started that asks the school district to protect Mick and her position at the school and asks the district to refrain from infringing upon the students' freedom of speech.

Former mayoral candidate Stephanie Bell, who started the petition, said that "the artwork chosen represents major events in our community and around the world including the documentation of racial inequality protests, COVID-19, the 2020 presidential election and support of basic human rights," according to The Dallas Morning News.

She added: "This is such a time in a child's development where they are learning to be their own person and when we're muzzling them from thought."

The petition currently has nearly 3,500 signatures.

Earlier this week, a high school yearbook was recalled after a student quoted Adolf Hitler and falsely attributed it to George Floyd.

Newsweek reached out to LISD for comment.

Sydney Black Lives Matter Rally In Solidarity
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 02: A protester holds a sign with the words 'I can't breathe' written on it during a 'Black Lives Matter' rally in Hyde Park on June 02, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The same quote was involved in controversy after a sticker reading 'I can't breathe' was on the cover of a yearbook in a middle school in Texas, along with the 'Black lives matter' slogan. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)