Another threat alleged over shirt

Relatives of the teacher accused of humiliating a student said she had received ominous calls.

Posted: October 08, 2012

The first call came Friday evening, tinged with racist hate.

"Watch your back, (racist slur). I'mma blow your (profanity) brains out," one of Lynette Gaymon's aunts said Saturday.

Gaymon, a geometry teacher at Charles Carroll High School in Port Richmond, has been accused of humiliating a student who wore a pink Romney/Ryan T-shirt on "dress-down" day Sept. 28.

After the story drew media attention last week, the teacher's aunts said, she stayed out of school and took refuge with friends.

On Friday, harassing phone calls began to come in, they said.

Gaymon lives with two of her aunts in Philadelphia; one of them said that she picked up the phone and heard a death threat around 6 p.m. Friday and that after that, they stopped answering the phone. The calls continued, with several callers leaving messages, before the women unplugged the phone, they said.

They agreed to be interviewed, but, because of the alleged threat, asked that they not be identified.

They played several messages for The Inquirer that were loaded with racial slurs and profanities.

The aunts said they reported the threatening call to Philadelphia police on Friday.

It all began with a T-shirt.

Sophomore Samantha Pawlucy said Gaymon called her out for wearing the shirt and told her it was analogous to the teacher, who is black, wearing a KKK shirt.

Pawlucy said Gaymon told her the school was "Democratic."

Whatever happened in school that day, it was all in jest, the aunts said their niece told them.

Gaymon was not available to be interviewed.

"She's a jokester. Lynn is like the family clown," one of the aunts said. "When it comes to entertainment, she's the one."

Gaymon told her aunts Wednesday about the incident after realizing it was more controversial than she at first thought.

She told them she left school on the day of the incident believing her students, including Pawlucy, knew she had been joking.

Gaymon has long been an advocate for students, her aunts said, and had been on good terms with Pawlucy.

Pawlucy agreed that she gotten along with Gaymon and could see how Gaymon may have been joking. But she said the experience was humiliating.

Some students have attacked Pawlucy and her family verbally and on Facebook, referring to their support for Gaymon.

Friends have told Pawlucy about talk of violence and other threats, she has said, and she said she had seen some references on Facebook. Students reportedly set up a Facebook page titled "Keep Gaymon," and some have referred to themselves as "#TeamGaymon" on Twitter.

When Pawlucy's parents dropped off complaint forms at the school Friday, some students shouted obscenities at them from the windows.

Gaymon's aunts said she appreciated the support but wasn't happy with the divisive anger.

"Lynn's really hurting about Samantha. She's really, really hurting for that child," one of them said. "Do what Lynn would want, what she always wants her kids to do: Come to school. Do your homework. Be on time. Be respectful."

She said Gaymon had expressed willingness to walk into the school with Pawlucy if that would help calm the situation.

With the calls to their house and the harassment of the Pawlucys, the two women said, things have gotten out of control. Both expressed a desire to see both sides come together in a face-to-face meeting and settle things.

"Fair and square for everyone. How can this be rectified?" one aunt said. "I do believe that this still can be a done deal."

She said that when Gaymon told them about what happened, she knew her niece had made a mistake, albeit an honest one.

"I told her, 'There were two things that you did wrong,' " she said. "I said: 'One, you pinpointed the shirt. The second thing was to use the KKK.' "

She said her 28 years of experience teaching in New York City had taught her, "You have to be very careful what you say and how you say it, especially when it comes to a child. . . . The fact remains, in the classroom, you are the adult."

Still, both women said, Gaymon has always been humorous, recalling last Halloween, when she dressed up as a mummified, Cleopatra-like ancient Egyptian princess.

They said humor had helped Gaymon connect with her students.

Gaymon long planned to be a teacher, a profession that suits her, they said.

Born in California and raised in Boston, Gaymon came to Philadelphia for college, they said. A lifelong aptitude for math and love of children led her to Temple University, where she trained to be a teacher.

After graduating in 2006, they said, Gaymon made her way to Carroll, where she's involved in tutoring, prom, field trips, and other extracurricular activities outside the classroom. She wakes at 4:30 a.m. to leave the house at 6, and she often comes home late, they said.

But now she's afraid to return to the school, her aunts said, and fear of harassment has kept her out of the house. She stops by from time to time, but spends nights with friends, they said.

With the Pawlucys and Gaymon being harassed and having received or heard of threats to them, Gaymon's aunts called for peace.

"This is hurting all of us," one said. "Physically, mentally, and emotionally."

She said she hoped the Pawlucys would join them in calling for an end to all harassment, threats, and bullying. She said she'll be praying for Samantha Pawlucy and her family in church on Sunday, and wants to see the situation resolved peacefully.

"It's all about unity," she said, asking for civility. "This is too much. I'm tired of it, I'm tired. I'm over it."


Contact Jonathan Lai

at 215-854-2771, jlai@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @Elaijuh.

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