The New Jersey School District has awarded $325,000 to a former teacher who faced death threats after accepting responsibility for removing a Trump logo from a student’s yearbook photo in 2017.
Susan Parsons claims that Wall Township High School ordered her to make changes to the “Trump Make America Great Again” shirt, requesting that it be changed to a simple blue color. Parsons filed a lawsuit against the school system in 2019, claiming that she was made a scapegoat and received death threats as a result of the uproar that made national headlines in 2017, according to NJ Advance Media.
The Wall Township school board has agreed to pay $325,000 to Parsons who said her employers conspired to blame her for removing a Donald Trump T-shirt from the school yearbook.
Parsons, who was the school yearbook adviser at the time, said she was forced to edit the Trump “Make America Great Again” shirt by a secretary who acted as a proxy for the principal. Despite the fact that Parsons voted for Trump in 2016, she said she made the student appear to be wearing a simple navy blue T-shirt.
According to a copy of the agreement obtained via an open records request, the Wall Board of Education accepted the settlement agreement Tuesday night, March 16, and the district made no admission of guilt or liability. According to the arrangement, the payout would be made by the district’s insurance carrier.
In 2019, Parsons told NJ Advance Media that the fallout from the media attention made her feel like “some scourge” and turned her into a nervous recluse unable to leave her township house. According to her lawsuit, she received a barrage of hate mail and voice messages.
“My life has not been the same” she said then, “and I don’t think it ever will.”
The deal ends a saga that has enraged many parents in Wall Township, where Trump received nearly 63 percent of the vote in 2016 and 58.5 percent in 2020.
According to the deal, Parsons will receive around $204,000 and the balance of the settlement will be used to pay attorneys’ fees.
She previously won a $25,000 settlement in a case challenging a district media policy, which she said prevented her from sharing her side of the story without first getting permission from the district. In the deal, which was authorized in 2019, the school district made no admissions or admission of misconduct.
The student in the yearbook photo, Grant Berardo, said in 2017 that he wore the T-shirt because it was a “historic” statement. All of his children are named after US presidents, and his father thought it was “pretty cool” that Trump was running for president at the time the photo was taken.
Parsons, a veteran teacher, said she was forced to change photographs on a regular basis, claiming that the “yearbook should reflect reality.”
“Even though this information is coming out, not everyone is ever going to be told the truth,” Parsons said. “Most people don’t care. They’ll just remember ‘That woman, that nutcase, who did she think she was?’”