The Colorado teenager who made national headlines when her racy senior pictured was rejected by the editors of her school yearbook has been the victim of bullying and discrimination and will continue to fight after the school rejected a third photo and used her school ID photo instead, her mother says.
Miki Spies, the mother of Durango High School senior Sydney Spies, told Westword magazine that she and Sydney’s father plan to file a complaint with the Durango, Colo., school board and superintendent in the hope that they “acknowledge that there’s been a lot of mishandling of this situation.”
“Sydney feels very bullied, by the entire school, basically,” Spies, 44, told Westword. “The school has been awful and the kids have been awful. She’s received very little support in any way from anybody. There’s been a ton of cyber-bullying, where people can say whatever they want without looking the person in the eyes. It’s been extremely hurtful for our entire family.”
Spies, 18, was notified last month by administrators at Durango High that a photo she submitted of herself posing in a short yellow skirt midriff and shoulder-exposing black shawl would not be allowed to be used as her senior portrait.
Spies fought back, holding a protest with her mother and other students outside the school and meeting with administrators whom, she said, banned her photo because it violated dress code.
While Spies placed the blame on school administrators, the yearbook’s five student editors insisted it was their decision alone on the photo.
“We are an award-winning yearbook. We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional,” student Brian Jaramillo told the Durango Herald last month.
Spies’ appeal, including the threat of a lawsuit and surrounding media coverage, did not sway the school so she submitted a second photo, this one of her posing in a strapless black dress, according to the Westword.
When that photo was rejected, also for violating dress code, the Spies family says, she submitted a third, “model-type photo” that was rejected as well, this time because she missed the deadline, according to Spies.
“The yearbook adviser and editors have decided to use my school ID picture as my senior photo. Since I went to NY, then had the flu they said I was too late to submit another Sr. picture,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “They ALSO decided that I couldn’t use the ‘controversial’ picture in my ad anymore that I had already paid for, so I requested my money back. I also dropped my yearbook class because its become a hostile environment. What a lovely Sr. year this has turned out to be…”
The yearbook’s editors had originally offered their fellow student the opportunity to include the original photo in one of the ad pages in the back of the yearbook, just not as her senior photo.
Miki Spies also commented on the situation on her own Facebook page.
“This whole yearbook photo has me thinking again. A lot of people are questioning my parenting skills. My kids tell me everything and I try to guide them as best as I can. But in the end I allow them to make their own decisions resulting in their own successes or failures,” she wrote. “I don’t see what resulted with all of this as a failure at all. Sydney has had the world see her photo. In my opinion the fact …that she would love to be a famous model someday shows that she made a pretty interesting decision! No matter how all of this turns out my daughter made her own choice and is ready to make her own way.”
Neither Spies nor the school responded to requests for comment placed today by ABCNews.com.