NJ student says superintendent too biased to investigate Trump yearbook flap
WALL — One of the students whose yearbook pictures were censored in order to remove Donald Trump refernces is calling for an independent investigation, saying that the district superintendent cannot be trusted because she once posted an anti-Trump article to the district website.
Superintendent Cheryl Dyer call the accusation an affront to her "personally and professionally."
Wyatt Dobrovich-Fago told the township Board of Education on Tuesday that he wants an independent investigation into the deletion of the logos from his sweater vest and from the T-shirt worn by junior Grant Berardo, according to a News 12 New Jersey report. A Trump quotation submitted by Wyatt's sister, freshman class president Montana, also was omitted.
The yearbook alterations caused a local stir and made national headlines.
Dyer's investigation concluded that the logo was intentionally removed from Berardo's shirt, but the cropping of Dobrovich-Fago's picture was the reason for his logo not appearing. The superintendent did not assign blame, but yearbook adviser Susan Parsons was suspended with pay. The district says it will republish the yearbook and provide it to any family on request.
Dobrovich-Fago, a junior, questioned Dyer's ability to impartially lead the investigation because of an "anti-Trump opinionated article" he said Dyer posted on the district website.
Dyer told New Jersey 101.5 in an email Wednesday that she posted a New York Times op-ed piece titled "Bullying in the Trump age" to the parents' section of the website in response to several bullying incidents.
The piece by Times Magazine writer Emily Bazelon says in part: "Now the country has elected a man who threaded racist, xenophobic and misogynistic messages and mockery of disabled people through his campaign. Donald J. Trump’s victory gives others license to do the same."
"The purpose was not to share an opinion on President Trump. The purpose was to bring attention to student behaviors in our community and other communities across the country," Dyer said. "Because the purpose was misinterpreted, and because our district policy does not support the posting of editorials on the website, it was removed."
Dyer disagrees with the need for another investigation and defended hers as having been done with input from a variety of staff members, working closely with administration and legal counsel.
"The inquiry has been conducted with the utmost care, sensitivity, and urgency. I am pleased with the way it has proceeded, and see no reason for an additional — or parallel — investigation to be conducted," Dyer said.
"I find the accusation that I am unable to be impartial wholly without merit. It is an affront to me personally and professionally, and I find the more colorful accusations of impropriety reckless and harmful, not only to me, but also the larger community as a whole," Dyer wrote.
The superintendent told those at the meeting on Tuesday that a private donor has agreed to pick up the cost of republishing the yearbook, according to News 12. One of those donors is Grant Berardo's father, Joseph, according to Dyer. The others wish to remain anonymous.
The executive director of Trump's presidential campaign, Michael Glassner, posted a letter to Trump's Facebook page Monday saying he was "dismayed" by the edits made to the first version of the yearbook.
"I commend you for all for voicing your support of the president and his mission to Make America Great Again," Glassner wrote.
In a separate comment, Glassner thanked Wyatt and his sister Montana for being "two young Americans who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in."
He also sent a box of campaign items "to wear around the great state of New Jersey,"
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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