Two situations this past week at New Jersey high schools appear to indicate the Garden State has some problems with our 45th president.
First, in Wall Township, a student at the high school by the same name had worn a “TRUMP Make America Great Again” shirt for his yearly student photo.
However, when the school’s yearbooks came out, junior Grant Berardo discovered that the shirt … had been blacked out.
This was surprising as when the proofs had come back earlier in the year, the Trump logo was still there. The logo was also unaffected on Berardo’s student ID card.
And Grant wasn’t the only one censored: “A junior classmate’s Trump shirt was also blacked out, and the sister of that boy, the freshman class president, noticed that the Trump quote she had selected to appear under her picture was gone,” according to a report by NJ.com.
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“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.”
“We didn’t have a dress code,” said Grant, 17, a member of the National Honor Society who also plays lacrosse, will play football this fall and is in the finance and ski clubs. “The seniors (boys) have to wear black jackets and ties, but the underclassmen don’t have a dress code.”
Indeed, shirts that “made the cut” in the yearbook included one with Alice Cooper on it, as well as tees featuring Led Zeppelin and Super Mario Brothers.
In a letter sent home to parents, Wall Superintendent Cheryl Dyer said the district was “investigating an allegation of censorship and the possible violation of First Amendment rights in the high school yearbook this year.”
“There is nothing in our student dress code that would prevent a student from expressing his or her political views and support for a candidate for political office via appropriate clothing. Rather, I applaud students for becoming involved in politics and for participation in our democratic society,” the letter said. “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.”
A commenter to the article writes that “The courts have long given schools significant latitude to restrict certain types of ‘speech.’ Blacking out political messages on school yearbook photos is not in any way, shape, or form a civil rights violation.”
Actually, it is a violation unless school officials can prove such is a disruption to the orderly educational environment. It’s unlikely such a case could be made based on the yearbook photo, especially if that same pic was permitted on Grant’s original proofs and student ID.
Elsewhere in the state at Morristown High School, junior Liam Shea was informed that his art project featuring a “a porcine President Trump clutching a snarling pussycat” was to be removed from the school’s annual Art & Design show.
Shea said that Principal Mark Manning had told him “I appreciate the risk you took, and it’s very well done … but other people weren’t too happy with this.”
Shea’s mom said she was disappointed, and then angry, that officials bowed to complaints.
“To me, that’s what art is for, especially for political things. That’s how people express to the world how they feel about what’s going on…I don’t think the image is offensive. I think it’s clever,” said Kelly Shea, who works for an architectural firm.
Liam, an aspiring video game designer and member of the National Art Honor Society, welcomes the publicity.
“Me, I think it’s great. It it wasn’t taken down, I wouldn’t be talking to you!”
The teen is designing graphics of George Washington for another project. He said he loves the environment and was dismayed by the President’s pullout from the Paris climate accord.
Shea said that “a dozen people” have recommended he make a t-shirt from his Trump work, noting that such “could be paying for my college tuition.”
This is the art by junior Liam Shea that was censored by Morristown NJ High principal Mark Manning. Please RT if you like freedom of speech pic.twitter.com/Vn3IDBjgEQ
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