Students find Trump shirt, quotes blackened out in yearbook in blatant free speech violation

Grant Berardo was conforming to his school’s published dress code when he wore his “Trump: Make America Great Again” T-shirt for his yearbook photo last fall.

Only graduating seniors are subject to a dress code for yearbook photos. But someone changed the rules on him.

The Wall Township High School junior proudly wore his navy blue shirt to show his support for the president on photo day. But when the yearbooks came out, it was evident that someone had editorialized his image by blacking out the lettering.

The proofs Berardo was provided showed the lettering intact, as did his image on the school’s electronic ID system — it was only after then that someone had blacked out his political support.

That gave him no opportunity to dispute the change. Even more outrageously, other T-shirts weren’t subjected to the same Photoshopping. The Newark Star-Lefger reported:

The kid wearing the Led Zeppelin shirt wasn’t photoshopped. Nor was the kid wearing an Alice Cooper shirt, or the kid with the Super Mario Brothers shirt. Or any of the kids wearing college shirts, apparel logos, athletic company tees, and all the other stuff kids wear.

Only “TRUMP Make America Great Again.”


Joe Berardo, the boy’s father, was just as unhappy about the incident as his son.

“I don’t like the way we have to tip-toe around political correctness,” he said. “It gets in the way of meaningful discourse. And, frankly, I hate being on the other side of it now.”

Berardo wasn’t the only Trump supporter whose image got Photoshopped. The same thing happened to a fellow junior classmate. In addition, that classmate’s sister, the freshman class president, wanted to show her support in a different way — by including a Trump quote beneath her name in the yearbook.

But someone nixed that also — again, without notice.

“We’re very angry,” said Janet Dobrovich-Fago, the mother of the other two students. “When we saw that Montana’s (her daughter’s) quote dropped out, we thought it was a mistake because all the other class presidents’ quotes were still there. But when we saw that Wyatt’s (her son’s) shirt was Photoshopped and we heard about Grant, I knew this was not a coincidence. This was purposeful and it’s wrong.”

Superintendent Cheryl Dyer claims it wasn’t the school that made the changes.

The administration is “investigating an allegation of censorship and the possible violation of First Amendment rights in the high school yearbook this year, she wrote in a letter to parents.

“Two parents have made me aware … the attire of their children was altered and that comments or quotes were not published. In all of the instances that I am aware of, references to and support of President Trump were removed.”

Even non-Trump supporters saw this as political censorship and therefore wrong.

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Berardo’s father, 51, is a Jersey guy and a Rutgers graduate, said his other two other kids graduated from the Wall school district with no problem.

“I’ve been very happy with the Wall School system,” he said. “That’s why we’re here, paying the taxes.”


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