Sydney Spies, the Colorado high school student whose provocative senior portrait was rejected from the yearbook, has vowed to continue to fight even after a third photo was rejected and she was forced to use her school ID picture instead.
As The Blaze previously reported, the 18-year-old made headlines in January after submitting a photo of herself dressed in a short yellow skirt and black midriff and shoulder-baring top to run in the Durango High School yearbook. The photo was rejected by the student yearbook staff, who said they didn’t want to run something unprofessional.
Since then, she submitted two additional photos that were each rejected as well before the yearbook's editors decided to use her ID photo. Miki Spies, Sydney's mother, told the Denver Westword magazine the family plans to file a formal complaint over the matter.
"Sydney feels very bullied, by the entire school, basically," Miki Spies told the magazine. "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."
Miki and Sydney Spies fought back after the first photo was rejected by the yearbook staff, holding a protest in front of the school and charging that Sydney's First Amendment rights had been violated. They said school administrators barred the photo because it violated dress code policy, though the yearbook editors maintained the decision was theirs alone.
“We are an award-winning yearbook,” Brian Jaramillo told the Durango Herald in January. “We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional.”
The Spies family submitted a second photo, this one of Sydney posing in a strapless black dress and grasping a wall, which was also nixed. They then tried a third "model-type photo," Miki Spies told the Westword, which she said was rejected because they didn't submit it in time. She didn't specify which photo out of the ones released to the magazine was selected as the third shot.
"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," Sydney Spies wrote on her Facebook page, according to ABC News. "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…"
After her first photo was rejected, the yearbook staff initially told Spies the photo could run in the back as a paid advertisement.
According to the Westword, the staff's decision to use the school ID photo was the final straw for the family: Miki Spies said she plans to copy a formal complaint to the school board and the superintendent so that they "acknowledge that there's been a lot of mishandling of this situation."
Addressing the controversy on her own Facebook page, Miki Spies defended the actions that she said have prompted people to question her 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, according to ABC. "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."