Teen who wore Romney t-shirt afraid to go to school

Samantha Pawlucy, 16, of Port Richmond, with the shirt that caused the trouble.
Samantha Pawlucy, 16, of Port Richmond, with the shirt that caused the trouble. (SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 05, 2012

Samantha Pawlucy said she's afraid to return to Charles Carroll High School after she complained that a teacher mocked her for wearing a Romney t-shirt on dress-down day.

The sophomore said classmates, former friends, and even students from other schools have issued threats for what they see as lies and misinterpretation. That's what's she heard from other students and read on Facebook.

"I don't want to go to school and get jumped," said Pawlucy, a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, at her Port Richmond home Thursday evening. "I'm just really scared to go back to school."

The incident went viral after Pawlucy and her parents began publicizing her claim that Lynette Gaymon, her geometry teacher, had publicly humiliated her for her t-shirt.

Pawlucy was wearing a pink Romney/Ryan t-shirt on a "dress-down" day at school Friday when, she said, Gaymon began making fun of her. An adult aide waved a marker as if to draw an "X" on the shirt, Pawlucy said.

She also said Gaymon called the school "Democratic," and said Pawlucy's wearing of the Romney shirt was analogous to Gaymon, who is black, wearing a KKK shirt.

Gaymon could not be reached to comment. A spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers also declined to comment.

The family said they planned to file a formal complaint with the district Friday. Meanwhile, a district investigator Thursday spoke to Pawlucy's mother Kristine.

The teacher continues to teach at the school, but is not teaching Pawlucy's geometry class, said District Spokesman Fernando Gallard.

As students streamed out of the school Thursday afternoon, several groups of students shouted their support for Gaymon, calling her a "great teacher," "really fun," and "nothing like that story."

Students said Gaymon jokes around with her students, but never out of malice.

Even as a joke, the teacher's behavior was wrong and brought attention and humiliation to her, Pawlucy said.

The incident has also triggered a barrage of media interviews which have been difficult, she said.

More importantly, she said, she is scared for her safety now.

She said friends have told her entire groups of students have discussed attacking her.

Gallard said the district takes "situations like this very seriously" and would work with district and city police to investigate.

He urged the family to notify the school which they said they have done.

The mother said she's taking the threats seriously and plans to keep her daughter out of school until Tuesday.

The Pawlucys said they have not received any apology from the school or the district. The teacher apologized to the family during a meeting with them on Monday but they questioned its sincerity.

"She never once asked about Sam, it was all about her, her, her," Pawlucy's mother said.

The family quoted the teacher as saying that she had been joking and Pawlucy should have known that.

Pawlucy's mother said the family is focused now on the student threats and urged Gaymon to ask students to back down.

Pawlucy said she would wear the t-shirt again, given the chance.

The experience has been eye-opening, Pawlucy said, and she's learned a lesson: "To stand up for myself. Don't let people tell me that what I'm doing is wrong."


Contact Jonathan Lai at 215-854-2771, jlai@philly.com, or on Twitter @elaijuh.

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