Back in 2017, Susan Parsons, faculty advisor for the Wall Township High School yearbook was ordered to have the name “Trump” Photoshopped off some dumb kid’s senior picture. She probably figured, “Ok, not my call,“ and went along with the orders. That was fine until the kid’s equally dumb parents raised a stink and the whole thing erupted into a gigantic mess, described in the NY Times as, “a national firestorm over free expression and political opinion.”
The school superintendent, looking for a scapegoat, chose to blame Ms. Parsons, and she was suspended from her teaching position. Now, Parsons has been awarded $325,000 in a settlement with the district over the grief they caused her.
It brings back memories.
When I was in high school, I saw the administration harass and intimidate the advisor of our school paper over things the students wrote. As editor, I was personally targeted by several teachers over an editorial — and another time, given a ton of shit for going to the superintendent’s office and asking for a copy of the school budget. I will say, I never got in trouble as one of the yearbook editors. Yes, I was a huge nerd.
The school could have saved themselves a lot of trouble in this yearbook thing by just having some guidelines for senior pictures, like prohibiting branded clothing. No, you can’t wear a shirt with a slogan. Why? Because we say so, that’s why — schools do that stuff all the time. Or – and this is a stretch – they could have just ignored the whole t-shirt situation because it’s so meaningless and ridiculous. But that’s never been the way of school administrators.
I wanted to love this story, but alas, one tiny snippet of copy spoiled it: “Ms. Parsons, who said in court papers that she had voted for Mr. Trump in 2016…”
Oh, well. No winners here.