WALL, N.J. – A New Jersey high school is reprinting hundreds of yearbooks after an advisor intentionally edited out references to Donald Trump from student pictures and made other questionable changes.
Wall Township superintendent Cheryl Dyer sent a letter to parents and students at Wall Township High School Thursday to address the controversial yearbook edits that were first highlighted by junior Grant Berardo last week, NJ.com reports.
“I cannot allow the intentional change that was not based on dress code to be ignored,” Dyer wrote. “I am the Chief School Administrator in this district, and I take responsibility for the actions of those who are employed here. Therefore, I have determined that a re-issuance of the yearbook is necessary.”
Berardo went to the media last week after he realized his photo for the school yearbook was Photoshopped to remove the “TRUMP Make America Great Again” logo from his shirt. Other students complained that their references to the president were scrubbed, as well, including a quote from the freshman class president and a Trump sweatshirt worn by her brother on picture day.
District officials suspended yearbook advisor Susan Parsons indefinitely on Monday, and confirmed that students played no role in the censorship.
Dyer told parents Berardo’s shirt was intentionally altered, and outlined several other questionable changes for which Parsons “did not have a definite answer to whether it was an oversight, carelessness, or intentional,” she wrote.
“I was deeply disturbed by the allegations (of censorship),” Dyer said, according to the Wall Patch. “However, I have not yet been able to determine why this happened. In some cases I know how it happened; but, I think the issue is really about why it happened.”
Students, who paid $110 for the yearbooks, will receive a free uncensored replacement sometime in the next two weeks, according to Dyer, who could not provide an estimated cost for reprinting the annuals.
About 1,200 students attend Wall Township High School, though not all of them purchased yearbooks.
Meanwhile, Parsons continues to collect her paycheck while on administrative leave, as required by state law, the Patch reports.
Student Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago, whose Trump sweater was edited out of the yearbook, doesn’t think the district is doing enough. Dobrovich-Fago and several others who addressed the school committee at a meeting Wednesday alleged Dyer is biased against the president.
“It’s a sentiment shared by a handful of parents who have said they do not feel Dyer could be impartial based on a November controversy over an op-ed piece from the New York Times that Dyer shared on the district’s website,” the Patch reports. “The opinion piece, titled ‘Bullying in the Age of Trump,’ highlighted more than 430 incidents of harassment directed at minorities in the first 10 days following Trump’s election.”
Dyer dismissed the criticism and insisted her focus is on bullying, not Donald Trump.
“I’m not anti-Trump,” she said. “I am anti-bullying. I am also anti-censorship.”