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Middle School Accidentally Prints Racial Slur on Yearbook Cover

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

One middle school in California recalled nearly 1,000 yearbooks to scratch a racial epithet off the cover after students spotted the slur.

The cover of Black Mountain Middle School’s yearbook this year features an 1800s North County region map with the title “Looking for Adventure” — and one of the old road names included the offensive term. The school had not been aware of the slur’s presence and recalled almost all of the yearbooks from the eighth graders to remove the word from the cover, Poway Unified School District communications director Christine Paik told TIME in an email.

“This is something that we definitely need to look at in terms of how the yearbook gets edited and proof-read,” Paik said, the Tribune reports. “Even if it was unintentional, it was still hurtful to people, and we don’t want to do it again.”

The school had not yet distributed the books to the sixth and seventh graders and considered reprinting all of them once the eighth graders’ books were recalled, but decided to scratch the word from the cover in lieu of the delay and $36,000 reprinting fee.

School employees removed the term in time to get books out to all the students on the last full day of classes on Wednesday, Paik said. One person told the Tribune that the scratched-out word did not look bad.

Black Mountain Middle School Principal Charan Kirpalani told parents and students about the slur in a statement and invited people to reach out to the school with any concerns.

“In using a 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,” Kirpalani wrote in the statement, according to Paik. “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.”

Kirpalani did not immediately respond to TIME’s inquiry.

[San Diego Tribune]

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com