Grant Berardo had carefully picked the shirt he wanted to wear on school picture day last October. It was navy blue and read, “TRUMP: Make America Great Again!”
The junior at Wall Township High School in New Jersey saw the pictures when the proofs came back in November and everything looked great, he told NJ.com.
But when the 17-year-old opened up his yearbook last week and looked at his photo, the president's campaign slogan was gone. He told his parents, who were furious and accused the school of censoring their son.
“He just wanted to memorialize what was going on in the country at the time,” the teen’s father, Joseph Berardo, told the Washington Post.
Grant's shirt didn't need to be retouched because it did not violate the school's dress code, as it did not mention drugs, alcohol, or weapons.
At least two other students say pro-Trump messages were erased from their photos. Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago, a junior, wore a vest with a Trump logo that his mom claims was edited out.
"I guess someone just didn't like our president and wanted to not have him in the yearbook," Wyatt said on Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends program. "With everything that's going on today, in the country...censoring someone's freedom of speech, freedom of expression, is where we've got to stop."
His sister, Montana, told CNN that she submitted a quote by Trump for the yearbook but when the freshman class president received her copy months later, the spot beneath her photo was blank.
“I like thinking big. If you are going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big,” the quote was supposed to read.
At first, Montana and her mom, Janet Dobrovich-Fago, thought it was a mistake because all of the other class presidents' quotes had been printed next to their pictures.
“But when we saw that Wyatt’s shirt was photoshopped and we heard about Grant, I knew this was not a coincidence. This was purposeful, and it’s wrong," she told NJ.com.
The teens' parents are furious and are calling on the school to issue new yearbooks with their children's Trump clothing and quotes reinstated.
“He was just really surprised; it was the first election he ever took an interest in,” Joseph Berardo told the Post. “His question was, ‘Is it okay? Did someone do something here that they shouldn’t have done?’ That’s why I’m pursuing it.”
Cheryl Dyer, superintendent of Wall Township Public Schools, said in a statement that administration officials were conducting a thorough investigation into possible censorship and the violation of First Amendment rights.
She emphasized that there is nothing in the high school's dress code "that would prevent a student from expressing his or her political views, or support for a political figure, via appropriate clothing and attire," nor does the public school condone altering students' political expressions.
On Monday, Dyer said that a teacher who advised the yearbook staff had been suspended as the investigation unfolds.
Grant Berardo said the whole thing seems "kind of stupid."
"I mean, he is our president," the teen said. "He's the president of the United States. How is that offensive?"
BuzzFeed News reached out to the Berardos and Superintendent Dyer for comment.
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at email@example.com.
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