The father of a New Jersey high school student spent more than $5,000 to ensure that the high school that censored the Trump logo on his son’s shirt would reprint the yearbooks with the logo.
The school district made national headlines in June when three students reported that their support of Trump, as displayed in the Wall High School yearbook, had been censored.
The yearbook showed a photograph of junior student Grant Berardo wearing a plain black T-shirt, not the navy blue “Make America Great Again” shirt he wore on school picture day. Dyer later classified the digital alteration as “intentional.”
Two other students also reported censorship related to their support of Trump.
Junior student Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago wore a sweater vest featuring a campaign logo but his photo was cropped in the yearbook and much of the logo was obscured.
Joseph Berardo, the father of Wall Township High School student Grant Berardo, spent $5,279 of his own money towards the reprinting costs for 200 yearbooks with photos containing the Trump logo and quotes from President Trump that were initially censored the first time around, the Asbury Park Press reported.
The donations had been described to the public as anonymous but the district’s response to an Open Public Records Act request by the Press revealed:
- $5,279 donated by Joseph Berardo, whose son was the first to report yearbook censorship
- $3,000 donated by Lors Photography, hired by the district to take yearbook photos
- Jostens, the yearbook publisher, will issue a credit to the district for any further costs
APP reported that Superintendent Cheryl Dyer previously estimated that reprinting the yearbooks would cost over $10,000.
“We saw everything going on – with the school, the yearbook publisher – and knew they’d be going through some stuff to reprint the books,” said James Carroll, vice president of finance for Lors Photography. “It was a small bit of assistance based on our relationship with the school and the district. We wanted to do our part to help out.”
Berardo paid the balance of the cost because he “felt it was the right thing to do.
“I wanted to know what happened but I didn’t want there to be some other program that didn’t get funded because of this,” he said. “They responded appropriately (after the allegations) and corrected it. Supporting the kids of Wall Township seemed like the right thing to do.”
A spokesman for Jostens did not return requests for comment.
Last month, school board member Ernest Bongiovanni and various attendees at a school board meeting called for the anonymous yearbook donors to be revealed.
“Not only am I concerned that perhaps people are donating for the wrong reasons, but they’re sort of taking the administration off the hook,” he said.
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) June 20, 2017
High school media technology teacher Susan Parsons – also the school’s yearbook adviser – was suspended with pay. Further discipline is expected to be handed down after an “investigation” by district officials.
Parsons, 62, collected a $92,000 salary last year, according to public records. Her job status for the 2017-18 school year is not known, but the district has already appointed basketball coach Matt Kukoda as the yearbook adviser.