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Attorney says out-of-context yearbook quote made it look like Chicago area student was celebrating Oct. 7

Suburban Chicago district investigates school yearbook quote appearing to defend Oct. 7
Suburban Chicago district investigates school yearbook quote appearing to defend Oct. 7 02:37

GLENVIEW, Ill. (CBS) -- An investigation has concluded into the yearbook for last school year at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, after a quote was published from student who appeared to say they were "happy" about the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

An attorney investigated the yearbook controversy for about the past month, and concluded there is little to no adult oversight when it comes to the production of the yearbook. The attorney also concluded that the quote from the student in the yearbook was taken out of context.

For more than a month, there has been outrage over the 2023-2024 yearbook published and distributed at Glenbrook South.

A sophomore, whom CBS 2 is not identifying, was quoted about Oct. 7—the day Hamas fighters brutally invaded Israel and murdered and captured Jews.

The student's quote in the yearbook read, "The first day, I woke up and I saw what Palestine did, and I was happy because they're finally defending themselves."

Glenbrook South High School

An attorney for the district concluded the quote was accurate, but taken out of context.

"Who's responsible for determining the quality of the work?" said attorney Justin Petrarca.

Petrarca concluded that the quote was accurate, but said it was taken out of context. It was placed on a page that featured a headline referencing Oct. 7 and a description of the attacks.

But a recording of the interview with the student whose quote was placed on the page reveals Oct. 7 was never discussed.

"The editors in chief chose to use the quote in relation to October 7 without any context being given," said Petrarca.

A parent complained that the yearbook production was not supervised.

"There was no oversight by the advisor in the yearbook. They had plenty of time to retract that statement from the student," said District 225 parent Steven Andrews. "I actually feel bad for the student as well, because she's now being targeted because there was no oversight by an adult."

Josh Weiner of the Chicago Jewish Alliance took issue with the student's quote being made to look like a defense of the Oct. 7 attacks.

"It seems that this quote had nothing to do actually with October 7th, which is completely upsetting to me that students decided to make it about something that it wasn't," Weiner said.

Petrarca also found that the yearbook staff advisor was aware of the quote prior to publication and had several conversations with the editors—but never advised them to retract the quote, as she was comforted by the fact that two of the three students working on the yearbook are Jewish, and they didn't believe it was antisemitic.

"This teacher should be held completely responsible for what happened," said Weiner, "and unfortunately, she's been doing this a long time and it's a miracle to me she hasn't slipped up until now."

"The advisor who allegedly has been doing this for 20-plus years didn't do her job," added Andrews.

The nearly 20-page investigation into the yearbook, which will be made public Tuesday, also shows That as long as students met certain deadlines, they received an A in the class associated with yearbook production.

The investigation further found that in the advisor's 20-plus-year career in her position overseeing the yearbook, she has never gone to the principal for advice on certain publication controversies.

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