Back in 2017, Susan Parsons, faculty advisor for the Wall Township High School yearbook was ordered to have the name â€œTrumpâ€ Photoshopped off some dumb kidâ€™s senior picture. She probably figured, â€œOk, not my call,â€œ and went along with the orders. That was fine until the kidâ€™s equally dumb parents raised a stink and the whole thing erupted into a gigantic mess, described in the NY Times as, â€œa national firestorm over free expression and political opinion.â€
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 superintendentâ€™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 canâ€™t wear a shirt with a slogan. Why? Because we say so, thatâ€™s why — schools do that stuff all the time.Â Or â€“ and this is a stretch â€“ they could have just ignored the whole t-shirt situation because itâ€™s so meaningless and ridiculous. But thatâ€™s never been the way of school administrators.
I wanted to love this story, but alas, one tiny snippet of copy spoiled it: â€œMs. Parsons, who said in court papers that she had voted for Mr. Trump in 2016â€¦â€
Oh, well. No winners here.