Dispute over high school senior yearbook photos

Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-02 20:22:55-04

Some students at Rock Canyon High School are being required to take their senior portraits again if they want to be in the yearbook.

Parents said they paid for expensive photo sessions and then learned only a certain photographer has been approved to take portraits for the yearbook at the Douglas County school.

"It seems kind of ridiculous given the fact that we have a perfectly usable picture," said parent John Gordon.

Gordon's son Zachary had his senior photos taken at Bettinger photography in Denver.

"Senior portraits have been our bread and butter, represented 60 to 70 percent of our business," said owner Dan Bettinger.

Bettinger has photographed Douglas County seniors for years but said the rules of the game are changing.

"My concern is that they're limiting access from professionals to the yearbooks," he said.

Bettinger said he submitted Gordon's chosen yearbook photo to the school's yearbook committee by email on Thursday.

"I was informed that my photographs would not be accepted and they had been recycled," he said.

The high school said the photo wasn't accepted because Bettinger isn't the school's official photography vendor. Gordon's dad was also surprised.

"I thought it was kind of a ridiculous request, I'm going to be in control of this particular situation and not accept photographs," the father said.

The Douglas County School District said each school gets to decide how they run their yearbook.

Rock Canyon Principal Andy Abner told 7NEWS they went with an approved vendor to make sure all the photos look the same and to ensure each student is included in the yearbook.

Abner also noted that Rock Canyon's yearbook is a national award-winning publication that students take a lot of pride in putting together.

He said the school went through a bid process two years ago and Vision Photography was chosen as the vendor.

Vision provides the photos for free and parents can then purchase the prints, if they want.

"Not only do my clients not get what they want, but it's affecting my business," said Bettinger.

He said not being allowed in the yearbook is costing him money.

"If the high schools are gonna go to specific contracts that eliminate us or other photography studios from being able to provide our service, then it could be the death of our business," said Bettinger.

Gordon doesn't think his son should have to take another photo.

"We have the photograph, it's good quality and it can be put into the yearbook," he said.

The district also said parents can pay for an ad in the yearbook and use any photo they'd like. The rules only apply to senior yearbook photos.

A handful of other schools in our state have also started requiring a single approved photographer for the same reasons Rock Canyon has.