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Trump shirt censored, now school has to re-issue yearbook

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/16/2017 Mike Davis
Grant Berardo's T-shirt was digitally altered in the Wall (N.J.) High School yearbook. He wore a Donald Trump campaign shirt for his portrait. On Thursday, June 15, 2017, the school district superintendent said the yearbooks will be reissued. © Provided by Joseph Berardo Jr. via Asbury Park (N.J.) Press Grant Berardo's T-shirt was digitally altered in the Wall (N.J.) High School yearbook. He wore a Donald Trump campaign shirt for his portrait. On Thursday, June 15, 2017, the school district superintendent said the yearbooks will be reissued.

WALL, N.J. — High school yearbooks that featured digitally-altered photographs of students supporting President Trump will be reissued, the school district superintendent said.

In a letter to parents issued Thursday evening, Superintendent Cheryl Dyer, of Wall Township (N.J.) Public Schools, outlined a series of "mistakes," including the intentional alteration of a student's T-shirt to remove a Trump campaign logo.

Other mistakes in the Wall Township High School yearbook were unintentional, probably because of "carelessness or lack of attention to detail or lack of sufficient proofreading," she said.

More: N.J. teacher suspended over Trump yearbook censorship

"I do not believe that it is possible to create a yearbook of 248 pages, thousands of pictures, names, and lines of text and have it be error free," said Dyer. "That being said, I cannot allow the intentional change that was not based on dress code to be ignored. 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," she continued.

The new yearbooks will be available in about two weeks, Dyer said. The school's commencement ceremony for seniors is scheduled for Friday. 

Wall High School has grabbed national attention over the last week after three students reported that their images or words supporting Trump had been altered in the yearbook.

Grant Berardo, a junior at the school, took his school pictures wearing a navy blue "Make America Great Again" shirt from the campaign. In the yearbook, his photo had been digitally altered so it resembled a nondescript black T-shirt.

“It was Photoshopped," Grant said in an interview June 9. "I sent it to my mom and dad, just like ‘You won’t believe this.’ I was just overall disappointed.

"I like Trump, but it’s history too. Wearing that shirt memorializes the time," he said. 

In her letter, Dyer said this alteration was "intentional." 

But it's not yet clear whether a quote attributed to Trump was purposely left out of a section dedicated to Montana Dobrovich-Fago's role as freshman class president, Dyer said.

Traditionally, class presidents pick a quote to accompany their picture. "I like thinking big. If you are going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big," Trump's quote read.

More: Teen's Trump T-shirt censored in yearbook photo

The quote was submitted before a deadline but did not appear in the yearbook.

Montana's older brother, Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago, wore a sweater vest with a Trump logo for his school pictures. The logo was cropped out of the photograph in the yearbook, but Dyer said it was done in "the same manner as all of the underclass photos."

It did not appear to be intentional, she said.

According to Dyer, other errors in the yearbook included:

• A photo of a junior was not included.

• A senior's photo was published with his eyes closed, despite other photos being available. 

• No sophomore class officer had their photo included. 

• Images of a class trip to Bermuda were digitally altered to cover up shirtless students or students wearing swimsuits. It was intentional, Dyer said.

Digital media teacher Susan Parsons, also the yearbook adviser, was suspended with pay because of the incident. The school board is expected to discuss further discipline at its Tuesday meeting.

She has not returned multiple calls seeking comment.

Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @byMikeDavis

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