School District Settles Over Editing of Trump T-Shirt

Retired yearbook adviser said she was made a scapegoat
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2021 7:10 PM CDT
Updated Mar 19, 2021 6:15 AM CDT
School District Settles Over Editing of Trump T-Shirt
Grant Berardo looks over his school yearbook in Wall, N.J., in 2017.   (Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP, File)

A New Jersey school district has agreed to pay $325,000 to a retired teacher who said she was made a scapegoat after a Trump T-shirt was edited out of a student's yearbook photo. Susan Parsons had sued the Wall Township School District in 2019, per She said the district set her up to take the blame by having a secretary tell her to change the photo, though the order really came from the principal. Digital editing changed the "Make America Great Again" T-shirt to a solid blue, messageless shirt. Parsons said she endured harassment and received death threats after the 2017 episode. "My life has not been the same," Parsons said at the time, "and I don’t think it ever will." The district did not admit to any liability in the settlement.

Parsons, who voted for Trump in 2016, will receive slightly more than $200,000, with the rest going to attorneys' fees. In 2019, she won a $25,000 settlement over a school district policy that she said kept her from telling reporters her story unless the district approved. After the student's parents complained about the photo change, Parsons was suspended, while the student appeared on cable TV shows, per the Asbury Park Press. New yearbooks were later ordered that included Grant Berardo in his Trump shirt. The district's superintendent had no comment on this week's settlement. "If there was a problem, somebody could have just told my mom," Berardo said at the time. "They had a retake day." (A student suspended after wearing a Trump shirt got money and an apology.)

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