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.