A New Jersey high school censored at least three students’ Trump T-shirts and slogans from the school yearbook, the Daily Mail is reporting. Now, the Wall Township Schools superintendent is investigating whether or not the alleged censorship violated the students’ First Amendment rights.
Last fall, back when the 2016-2017 school year was gearing up at Wall Township High School, Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago showed up for Picture Day wearing a vest bearing the Trump-Pence logo. At the time, he thought nothing of it: being a junior, he wasn’t under any special rules regarding what to wear (unlike the seniors, who were expected to wear their Sunday best).
However, when he picked up his yearbook on Wednesday, he found that his photo had been cropped so that the Trump-Pence logo wasn’t visible.
Wyatt wasn’t the only WTHS student to have his pro-Trump message edited out for the yearbook. As True Jersey reports, Grant Berardo also found out that his picture had been censored. Berardo, also a junior, showed up for Picture Day wearing his favorite shirt: a navy-blue T-shirt with the well-known Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again.” No one gave him any grief about it at the time; in fact, that day’s picture was the one used on his student ID, Trump slogan intact.
However, on Wednesday, Grant picked up his yearbook, only to find that a not-so-subtle change had been made: Trump’s name and the “Make America Great Again” logo had both been edited out.
Google Grant Berardo. This story disgusts me. Free speech (or wearing a dude you like on your shirt) is DEAD in this country.???? pic.twitter.com/guVRZjcNiq
— Me (@MyOpinion0319) June 11, 2017
It wasn’t only pro-Trump pictures that were kept out of the WTHS yearbook. Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago’s sister, Montana, was this year’s freshmen class president, and as such, was asked to submit a quote for her yearbook photo. She chose her favorite Donald Trump saying.
“I like thinking big, if you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”
As you can surmise, when the yearbook came out, Montana’s quote was gone.
Wyatt and Montana’s mom, Janet Dobrovich-Fago, isn’t pleased.
“We’re very angry. 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.”
— WOBM (@wobm) June 10, 2017
All three parents have issued complaints. Wall Township High School superintendent Cheryl Dyer said in a statement that the school’s dress code does not prohibit students from wearing clothes that promote a political message. In fact, she says, she wants to praise and encourage the students for having an interest in the political process.
As for how and why the yearbook was censored, Dyer promises an investigation.
“The high school administration was not aware of and does not condone any censorship of political views on the part of our students… The actions of the staff involved will be addressed as soon as the investigation is concluded.”
Meanwhile, Grant’s dad, Joe Berardo, wants an apology, as well as a new yearbook, Trump messages intact.
“There should also be consequences for the teacher who made the decision, if that’s, in fact, what happened. And the school district should hold a public meeting to own up to it and discuss it.”
Do you believe these students’ rights to free speech were violated by having their pro-Trump messages removed from their yearbook? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]