Teen is upset her picture with son is cut from yearbook

May. 03, 2013 @ 06:24 PM

Like other mothers, Caitlin Tiller of Trinity is proud of her son. As she spent a rare weekday afternoon with her son Leelin Mullis, age 1, she put the toddler through his paces. He walks, says “Mama” and will point to his nose and belly on request.

Tiller, 17, is all set to graduate on June 7. She has her red cap and gown, but she lacks one thing that other Wheatmore High School seniors have — her photo in the school yearbook. Two days before the yearbook deadline, a Wheatmore staff member advised Tiller that she would have to bring in a different photo because her infant son accompanied her in her senior portrait.

“We had our senior pictures made last summer, they asked us to bring something that inspired us,” said Tiller. “I brought Leelin, they made the picture, and no one said anything to me.”

Tiller said the yearbook staff member told her the photo she selected wouldn’t be used because it promoted teen pregnancy. Tiller chose not to submit another photo.

Tiller said that she always intended to be a mother, but motherhood came earlier than she expected.

“When I found out that I was pregnant, I doubled up on my courses so that I could graduate early,” she said.

Tiller is grateful for support from her dad Anthony Tiller, mom Karen Morgan, and Leelin’s father, Chris Mullis.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Anthony Tiller. “She has done an excellent job of keeping up with her schoolwork and taking care of the baby, too. She’s one good momma.”

Tiller, whose name was on the Wheatmore honor roll in the fall, completed the 24 credits necessary for graduation in December. In January Tiller began taking courses towards an associates degree in medical assisting at the Archdale Center of Randolph Community College. She attends classes four days a week, while working 30 hours per week at the Archdale McDonald’s.

“My son is a big part of me,” she said. “If he couldn’t be in the yearbook with me, then I didn’t want to be in it.”

Superintendent Donald Andrews explained the district’s policy.

“The practice at Wheatmore High School regarding yearbook pictures for seniors has been to include only graduating students in the senior section, and to permit family members and friends to be featured with our seniors in the ad section of the yearbook,” he said. “We offered this option to Ms. Tiller. We regret that this practice was not made clearer to her earlier in the yearbook development process and we will do a better job going forward with explaining our yearbook practices.”