US & Canada

Teacher suspended after removing 'Trump' from yearbook

Grant Berardo's image had been altered Image copyright Walls High School
Image caption Grant Berardo's image had been altered

A high school teacher in New Jersey was suspended after being accused of removing references to US President Donald Trump from the school yearbook.

Two students complained after their photographs were apparently edited to remove Mr Trump's name and his campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.

Another student was upset that a quote by Mr Trump that she had submitted for the yearbook was not included.

The teacher who advised the yearbook team has been placed on paid leave.

The Wall Township High School teacher, whom local media have identified as Susan Parsons, may have violated the free speech rights of the students, said school superintendent Cheryl Dyer.

"References to and support of President Trump were involved in each of these incidents," Ms Dyer wrote in a statement published over the weekend.

She added that the teacher's actions amounted to "censorship and the possible violation of First Amendment rights" to free expression.

"This allegation is being taken very seriously and a thorough investigation of what happened is being vigorously pursued," Ms Dyer wrote.

Third-year student Grant Berando told the Asbury Park Press on Friday that the alteration was an obvious case of Photoshop.

"I sent it to my mom and dad, just like 'You won't believe this.' I was just overall disappointed," he said about his photo, which had been edited to show him wearing a non-descript black shirt.

"I like Trump, but it's history, too. Wearing that shirt memorialises the time," he said.

Other references to the 2016 presidential election were not altered, students say.

Image copyright Wall High School
Image caption Wyatt's pro-Trump vest had been edited out, school photos show

Grant's father, Joseph Berardo, said: "I want the yearbooks to be reissued and I want a letter from the administration explaining why they are reissuing the yearbook.

"What's frustrating to me is that this was the first election he took interest in, but what message did the school send?"

Other students' parents took to cable news over the weekend to express outrage.

"I want to know who thought it was OK to do this," Janet Dobrovich-Fago told CNN.

Her daughter, Montana, had a quote removed from her bio, and her son Wyatt, had his photo altered.

The Trump quote submitted by Montana read: "I like thinking big. If you are going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big".

According to a LinkedIn profiled belonging to the teacher, Susan Parsons, she has worked in the school district for 15 years.

According public records, she earned over $87,000 (£68,000) in 2016.

The student's parents are due to meet with the high school principal and yearbook adviser this week.