A New Jersey high school has suspended a teacher who served as yearbook adviser after students discovered that logos on their clothing supporting Republican President Donald Trump were censored from their yearbook photos.
Susan Parsons — a technology/media teacher at Wall High School — was suspended Monday, officials at Wall Township Public Schools told NJ.com. Parsons couldn't be reached by phone Monday, the outlet reported, a message to her district email account was returned as "undeliverable" and a woman reached at her listed address in Wall Township declined to comment.
There's so far "no evidence to suggest that students were involved" in censoring the pro-Trump logos from the photos, Superintendent Cheryl Dyer told NJ.com Monday evening.
The censoring affected at least two Wall students who wore clothing for their photo shoots emblazoned with pro-Trump logos, as well as a freshman class officer whose Trump quote wasn't published along with her photo, parents told the outlet.
A painting of Trump riding a missile while taking a selfie also was reportedly removed, NJ.com said.
Grant Berardo, 17, wore a navy blue shirt with the logo "Trump: Make America Great Again" for his photo session — and was shocked when he saw that the logo was gone and his shirt was plain black in the yearbook.
“I sent it to my mom and dad, just like ‘You won’t believe this.’ I was just overall disappointed," Berardo told the Asbury Park Press. "I like Trump, but it’s history, too. Wearing that shirt memorializes the time."
Berardo told the paper he started following the election because of Trump, who he said “went out of his way because he cares for the American people. He’s a billionaire. He’s famous and really didn’t need to do this."
Grant's father, Joe Berardo, told the Press that the yearbook censorship "was probably politically motivated. It was inherently offensive to somebody and they made a decision to Photoshop it – and without discussion, which is the worst part."
And while Joe Berardo told NJ.com he's happy the district took disciplinary action, he doesn't want Parsons fired.
"I don't think that solves anything," he told the outlet, adding that he hopes the whole thing can become a "teaching moment."
"This is just about the issue of censorship," the dad said. "The kids should know that they can't be censored, unless it's rude or inappropriate. And from the teaching side of it, I think teachers have to understand that the kids don't check their rights at the door."
The high school's dress code doesn't preclude students from wearing clothing expressing political views, Dyer told NJ.com. She told the Press last week that she was "quite disturbed by the entire situation."
Parsons has worked in public schools for over two decades, including 13 years in Wall Township, NJ.com reported, citing state records. The district is required to continue paying Parsons at this stage in the investigation, Dyer told the outlet.