Students heckle parents of Philadelphia teen over T-shirt incident

Richard J. Junod said he felt compelled to support sophomore Samantha Pawlucy even though he never met her.
Richard J. Junod said he felt compelled to support sophomore Samantha Pawlucy even though he never met her. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 07, 2012

Angered by a teenager's claims of being humiliated by a teacher over a Romney/Ryan T-shirt, students at Charles Carroll High School ignored warnings from administrators and shouted obscenities out school windows at the girl's parents Friday morning.

Samantha Pawlucy had accused her geometry teacher of humiliating her for wearing the shirt, and stayed out of school after saying she learned students had made threats against her. To calm the situation, district officials addressed students Friday, urging them to leave Pawlucy alone.

Minutes later, some students were heckling Pawlucy's parents, shouting obscenities at them.

The Pawlucys had gone to the school in Port Richmond to file a complaint against teacher Lynette Gaymon for allegedly harassing their 16-year-old daughter for wearing the shirt on "dress-down day" Sept. 28.

Pawlucy's mother, Kristine, said that as they left the school, she and her husband stopped to talk with Richard J. Junod, who identified himself as a former district teacher and charter school administrator. He had been pacing in front of the school with a sign supporting the teen.

The incident has triggered reaction from supporters of both teacher and student. Samantha Pawlucy said she had learned from friends and through Facebook about the threats.

District officials assured the Pawlucys on Friday that students would be talked to and warned about violence and harassment, Kristine Pawlucy said.

She said she hoped to have her daughter back in school Tuesday if possible.

"What's it going to look like for Sam when she comes back?" she asked. "They can't even control the kids right after they told them to stop."

Friends and family will provide the girl an informal escort Tuesday, Kristine Pawlucy said. School is closed Monday in observance of Columbus Day.

Junod said he would also be at the school Tuesday. On Friday, he was carrying a green chalkboard on which he had written, "We support you Samantha . . . for bravery and courage while under fire . . . in defense of your American freedom."

The self-identified Marine Corps veteran said he felt compelled to carry the sign to demonstrate in support of a girl he had no relation to and had never met.

"I'm a veteran. I put on a uniform so that you and everyone around you can express your rights," he said.

Gaymon reportedly was not in school Friday. Samantha Pawlucy and her parents said Gaymon apologized during a meeting Monday but they questioned her sincerity. Gaymon maintained that she had been joking, the family said, and that Samantha should have known that.

Gaymon could not be reached for comment. A member of her household said a death threat against her was among several other threatening phone calls received by Friday evening.


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

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