The 2014 '30 Under 30'

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Philly ‘Romney-Ryan’ HS student to sue math teacher, district over incident

It looks like the district’s decision to install condom machines in high schools isn’t the only controversy surrounding the Philadelphia School District this week.

The parents of 16-year old Samantha Pawlucy, the Philadelphia high school student who was taunted by her geometry teacher for wearing a Romney-Ryan T-shirt to school, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the teacher and the school district over the incident late last week. The Pawlucys’ suit alleges that the district and teacher Lynette Gaymon violated their daughter’s right to free speech and subjected her “to emotional distress, simply because she exercised her First Amendment rights.”

The family is also seeking damages for emotional distress, claiming that Gaymon defamed Pawlucy by suggesting that she was a racist and for allowing other students who disagreed with her political views to harass her, and is seeking a judge to enjoin the district to ensure that this doesn’t happen to other students.

“This is Philadelphia, the birthplace of freedom and things like that, but we have schools that want to take away her freedom,” the girl’s father said.

When asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer last week Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard refused to comment on the lawsuit. In October Gallard acknowledged that Pawlucy had not violated any school codes by wearing the T-shirt.

Pawlucy wore the shirt to Charles Carroll High School on a casual dress day this past September. According to Fox 29 Philadelphia, the girl’s math teacher – Gaymon – took offense to her shirt, telling her that she “can’t wear a Republican shirt in a Democratic school” and that wearing the shirt was akin to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Gaymon then enlisted an aide to draw on Pawlucy’s shirt with a red Sharpie after she refused to take it off and allowed Pawlucy’s fellow classmates to mock her for the shirt.

She received a hero’s welcome when she returned to school on October 10th, commenting that ”(I’ve learned) to stand up for myself. Don’t let people tell me that what I’m doing is wrong” upon her return.

While Gaymon has since apologized, Pawlucy’s parents continue to call for her resignation and have removed their daughter from that high school. Governor Romney also called Pawlucy in October to praise her courage in handling the situation.

On Election Day the school district also sparked some controversy when it was ordered by a judge to temporarily cover a mural of President Barack Obama on the wall of a high school gymnasium that was being used as a polling site.

 

 

Comments

Comments

  1. crazymensa says:

    As with the media, teachers and professors feel it is their civic duty to instill our children with their opinions on just about anything. I have had children in high school and college who have had to deal with this and were subjected to ridicule from the teacher(s) and other students. My daughter was bullied teachers (in HS) for standing up for her constitutional right of freedom of speech. Because she was constantly bullied by the teachers and students (nothing was done by the administrators) she decided to transfer to a cyberschool, where she graduated. These people are not paid to teach nor give their opinions, especially politically. If religion cannot be mentioned (let alone taught) then so should it be that political opinion and affiliation should not be tolerated. This is the type of rhetoric that breeds hatred and violence; maybe the fingerpointers ought to take a look to whom the three fingers are pointing back…

  2. Mike S says:

    Freedom of speech includes the freedom to respond to that speech or message. This is important to remember when we have to listen to someone spewing absolute crap. We do not have to sit back and be silent. I support this girl and am proud of her. The teacher and teachers aid should never step foot in a class room again. Their response attempted to silence the girl rated then simply respond. We must be careful not to silence responses or our responses will be silenced.

  3. t. says:

    I’d like to know just where on that tshirt did the “aid” use a SHARPIE?? This is bullying, plain and simple, AND a violation of free speech AND destruction of private property AND quite possibly something akin to assault, depending on how the “Sharpie action” was executed.

    The “teacher” (according to their website a student teacher?) should be disciplined. Without any disciplinary action the school has, in effect, supported the action and made it clear to students and faculty alike that similar future action will go unpunished.

    Because no disciplinary action has been taken to date, I think Samantha has a good case.

    Hope she gets a pile of money. Paying out always makes schools start paying attention.

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