HOLMDEL, NEW JERSEY (MAY 6, 2019)–Wall Township former yearbook advisor and teacher Susan Parsons, who was thrown into the center of a high profile high school yearbook controversy in 2017, filed a civil rights lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County on Monday against the Wall Township Board of Education (BOE) as well as Wall Township High School Superintendent Cheryl Dyer, seeking redress for violations of her First Amendment right to free speech.
After yearbooks were printed and distributed in early June 2017, three Wall Township students complained that their yearbook submissions were altered to omit pro-Trump political expressions. Following these complaints, administrators met with students and Parsons and, Parsons alleges, the school began a public disinformation campaign to distance the administration from the controversy. Through their public statements, the lawsuit alleges that the Dyer painted a distorted picture of the editing process, making Parsons a scapegoat for the censorship that resulted in the controversy. Parsons alleges that, in fact, all editing and censoring of yearbook material were done at the direction of members of the school administration.
In her suit, Parsons also alleges that the Board of Education and Dyer refused to permit Parsons to speak with the media regarding the yearbook controversy. Simultaneously, Dyer disseminated a false narrative about Parsons’ role and authority in the yearbook editing process. The administration thereby made Parsons the public face of the yearbook controversy and prohibited her from speaking to the media to set the record straight. As a result of this false narrative, Parsons received death threats and harassing, messages following the story.
The lawsuit details examples of the death threats and other harassment directed at Parsons after the school’s announcement to the national media of her suspension. The Wall Police Department informed Parsons of a death threat and assigned a patrolman to monitor her house. The lawsuit also details some of the threatening voice messages, hate mail and other menacing communications directed at Parsons from those who believed that Parsons was responsible for the yearbook edits.
Read More: https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/teacher-scapegoated-wall-township-yearbook-controversy-files-suit/