Trump thanks teens for 'standing up' to yearbook censorship

WALL, N.J. — The scandal over censorship of merchandise and quotes from President Trump in a New Jersey high school yearbook has reached the White House.

President Trump and the director of his campaign thanked Wall High School students Montana and Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago, who reported a quote and logo featuring Trump's name removed from their class yearbooks.

The campaign also sent the teenagers a care package with shirts, hats, pins and patches.

More: Trump shirt censored, now school has to re-issue yearbook for everyone

"Thank you Wyatt and Montana — two young Americans who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Our movement to #MAGA is working because of great people like you!," Trump posted on Facebook. 

In a letter, campaign executive director Michael Glassner commended the students for "voicing their support" for Trump. 

"It is more important than ever that we, as Americans, stand up for our beliefs and hopes for a better country," Glassner wrote. "And, as you know, it takes courage to do so. But freedom of expression should never go out of style — let's not forget that!"

Wyatt, a junior at the school, wore a sweater vest featuring a Trump campaign logo on the school's picture day. But in the yearbook, his photo was cropped and the logo was barely visible — an act Superintendent Cheryl Dyer has ruled was not intentional.

More: N.J. teacher suspended over Trump yearbook censorship

His sister, Montana, picked a quote from Trump to run alongside her freshman class president photo: "I like thinking big. If you are going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big," Trump's quote read.

Traditionally, all Wall class presidents can pick a quote. Montana's was submitted before the deadline and it's not yet clear whether it was purposely excluded, Dyer said last week.

Another student, junior Grant Berardo, saw his picture digitally altered before being published in the yearbook. Instead of the navy blue Trump campaign shirt he wore during the photo shoot, his yearbook photo featured a nondescript black T-shirt — an "intentional" alteration, Dyer ruled.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Thank you Wyatt and Montana — two young Americans who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in. 

 
 

The school board Tuesday voted to formalize a suspension handed down to digital media teacher Susan Parsons, who Dyer suspended through the end of the school year last week.

The board is expected to continue discussing the case in executive session at future meetings, board attorney Michael Gross said. 

Parsons, 62, was included on a list of re-hired teachers for the 2017-18 school year with a $92,000 salary, but that list was finalized before the yearbook censorship came to light.

More: Teen's Trump T-shirt censored in yearbook photo

She has not returned multiple calls to her home seeking comment.

In response to the censorship scandal, Dyer last week ordered new yearbooks to be printed and reissued. Private, anonymous donors have contributed "at least $10,000" to cover the cost, Dyer said after Tuesday's board meeting. 

But some members of the Wall school community have said it's not enough. Dyer has come under fire for handling the investigation despite last year posting a New York Times opinion article about "bullying in the age of Trump" on the school website.

Wyatt also criticized Dyer for the "blatant anti-Trump stuff that's caused concern" for him.

"I feel like there's something else to the story. One person wouldn't just do this," Wyatt said. "There needs to be a proper investigation into this." 

School Board President Allison Connolly disagreed, applauding Dyer and district administrators for "facing this situation head-on." 

"We find the allegations of censorship disturbing and are taking the charges that students have had their rights compromised seriously," she said. 

Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @byMikeDavis

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