Yearbooks Recalled Over Student Misidentified as 'Isis' - NBC 7 San Diego
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Yearbooks Recalled Over Student Misidentified as 'Isis'

"We are apologetic to the family and then the Muslim community," school superintendent says

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Controversy Surrounds Yearbook Name Mistake

    A student who was misidentified as "Isis Phillips" in her school yearbook was speaking out about the controversy Monday. Tony Shin reports for the NBC4 News at 6 on Monday, May 9, 2016. (Published Monday, May 9, 2016)

    After a Muslim student wearing a hijab was misidentified as "Isis Phillips" in her graduating yearbook, Southern California school officials facing widespread outrage are recalling nearly 300 of the books.

    Rancho Cucamonga school officials are also investigating what caused the error, Chaffey Joint Union High School District Superintendent Mat Holton said.

    Administrators on Monday met with the family of 17-year-old Bayan Zehlif after she took to social media on Friday to call out Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga.

    "Seeing the yearbook really hurt, but seeing my classmates go against me like that hurt even more," she told reporters at the offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Anaheim.

    In a Facebook post that quickly went viral, the student said she was "saddened, disgusted, hurt and embarrassed" by the error, which comes less than two weeks before her school's graduation.

    "Apparently I am 'Isis' in the yearbook. The school reached out to me and had the audacity to say that this was a typo. I beg to differ, let's be real," the post read.

    The post sparked widespread outrage online, with some calling the misprint "racist" and "islamophobic." 

    Holton said the student was misidentified as a peer with the name of Isis who no longer attends the school and that the school immediately contacted the student's parents to apologize.

    Zehlif said she didn't personally know Isis Phillips, but she has heard a girl with that name had attended the school. The mix-up occurred on a candid photo, and her class photo lists her name correctly, she said.

    Los Osos High School principal Susan Petrocelli offered an apology on Twitter Saturday, saying the school was taking steps to correct and investigate the misprint. Holton added the district was working with "school officials and law enforcement to do whatever we can to try to figure out how this could occur."

    "We are apologetic to the family and then the Muslim community," Holton said. "Every student in this district should be able to open up a yearbook and it should be a culminating experience... not something that creates pain."

    Since the incident surfaced, yearbook distribution was halted and 287 yearbooks were being recalled to replace the page with a corrected version, Holton said. He also mentioned the yearbook accurately identified the student in a number of other photos.

    The Los Osos High School yearbook also responded on Twitter, admitting fault in the error. "We should have checked each name carefully in the book and we had no intention to create this misunderstanding," the yearbook staff said.

    The student's family is consulting with attorneys with the Greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who were investigating the incident.

    Zehlif is not returning to school for now out of fear of the backlash from some of her classmates, but hopes to attend graduation next week as her relatives from Jordan have traveled for the ceremony, she said.