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June 18, 2017

New Jersey school district to re-issue yearbooks after student's 'Trump' shirt was blacked out

Superintendent apologized to parents for the 'intentional' alteration

Education High Schools
06122017_Grant_Berardo_Wall ./.

Wall High School student Grant Berardo's yearbook photo was digitally altered to remove a reference to President Donald Trump from his T-shirt.

A New Jersey school district will issue corrected yearbooks after a photo of a high school student was digitally altered to erase President Donald Trump's name and signature slogan from his T-shirt.

Wall Township School District came under fire for the incident, which received national media attention, and suspended the adviser in charge of yearbook production at the high school last week.

District Superintendent Cheryl Dyer said in a June 15 letter to parents that the district will re-issue new yearbooks, which should be available in about two weeks.

Grant Berardo, a junior, saw that his navy blue "TRUMP Make America Great Again" T-shirt was blacked out when he received the yearbook earlier this month. It was also reported that another student's vest bearing the Trump name was also altered.

Dyer said Thursday that Berardo's shirt was intentionally altered, but that the Trump name on the other student's vest no longer appeared in the picture after it was normally re-sized. That Trump's name was not shown on the vest did not appear intentional, she said.

Dyer also said a class president's Trump quote was not included in the yearbook, even though it was submitted on time.

"I do not know if this was an oversight, careless, or intentional," the superintendent wrote of the missing quote.

In a Monday, June 12 interview with NJ 101.5, Joe Berardo, Grant's father, called for the district to reissue the yearbook and explain what happened and why.

"This has gotten absurd, quite frankly, the fact that it happened," he said.

Dyer also listed several other unrelated mistakes that will also be corrected in the re-issued yearbook.

"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," she said. "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."

The high school's yearbook adviser, Susan Parsons, was reportedly suspended with pay while the district investigated what happened. 

Dyer told on June 12 that there was no evidence students had any part in altering Berardo's picture.

She apologized for the incident in her letter.

"I will be insisting that checks and balances be implemented to ensure that intentional alterations that are not consistent with district policy do not continue and unintentional mistakes from carelessness, lack of attention to detail, or lack of sufficient proofreading are minimized," Dyer wrote.