Photo edit outrage: Florida high school employee alters 80 girls yearbook photos to cover ‘dress code violations’

‘It looks really awkward and I was very confused’ student says

A Bartram Trail High School yearbook photo before and after being digitally edited due to dress code violation. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida high school language arts and yearbook teacher took the liberty of altering 80 yearbook photos of female students after she said the students violated the dress code.

WJXT first reported the story Friday and included photos of adjustments that were made on the student’s school pictures in the Bartram Trail High School yearbook.

St. Johns County School District officials told WJXT that Anne Irwin, who is listed as a Language Arts/Yearbook staff member on the high school’s directory page, was in charge of the adjustments.

“I am sure there are many different opinions on whether they were or were not [in violation of the school’s dress code],” a district spokesperson told WJXT on Friday. “The dress code guidelines are in our student code of conduct, but enforcement of the dress code happens at the school level and differs from administration to administration.”

Yearbook photo before and after it was digitally altered. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

The dress code for the district states that “inappropriate clothing worn by a student is detrimental to the school program” and that “wearing of garments suitable for school shall be encouraged.”

Dress code standards outlined in the code of conduct for the district state that girls “tops and shirts must cover the entire shoulder and they must be modest and not revealing or distracting.” The code also states that “hair curlers and excessive make‐up shall not be permitted” for girls.

Of the 80 photos that were edited, 100% were of female students.

The Bartram Trail High School yearbook page does include a disclaimer that “all images in ads and all individual student pictures must be consistent with the St. Johns County School District Student Code of Conduct or may be digitally adjusted.”

The report from WJXT revealed that the news station obtained a copy of the yearbook and “found shirtless photos of male students and other photos showing the shoulders of female students, but it appeared that only portrait photos were altered by Irwin.”

The dress code for boys, according to the code of conduct for the district, states that “no boxer shorts or underwear may be visible.” The dress code for both boys and girls states that revealing clothing and pajamas are not acceptable.

One of the students who had her photo altered, Riley O’Keefe, told WJXT that after she received her yearbook, she noticed “a black box over my chest and the cardigan on the side is like moved over... it looks really awkward and I was very confused.”

O’Keefe did not think her clothes were in violation of the dress code and told WJXT that she had her outfit cleared by school officials. “It made me feel a little uncomfortable that that’s what they noticed when they looked at our pictures,” O’Keefe said.

Example of digitally altered photo in Bartram Trail High School yearbook. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

The yearbooks cost students $100 and according to a report from TMZ, Bartram Trail High School officials are offering refunds to upset parents but the yearbooks must be returned, fully intact, for a full refund.

A spokesperson for the district told WJXT that the previous policy was to exclude photos of students from the yearbook altogether if they were found to be in violation of the dress code and the “digital alterations were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook”

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.