Nutter visits both sides in school T-shirt brouhaha

Samantha Pawlucy, in the Romney/Ryan T-shirt she wore to her "Democratic" school, with her dad, Richard.
Samantha Pawlucy, in the Romney/Ryan T-shirt she wore to her "Democratic" school, with her dad, Richard. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff)
Posted: October 09, 2012

Mayor Nutter reached out Sunday to the student and teacher at the heart of a controversy in a Port Richmond school over the student's wearing of a Romney/Ryan T-shirt.

Nutter separately visited Lynette Gaymon, a geometry teacher at Charles Carroll High School, and Samantha Pawlucy, a 16-year-old sophomore.

Neither of the parties, nor their families, would discuss the mayor's visits. Nutter, in a brief telephone interview, said he had no comment.

"It's up to my daughter," Pawlucy's father, Richard, said Sunday when asked what comes next. "We don't know what we want to do."

It was unclear what sparked the mayor's involvement in the matter, which brought some national attention and raised political passions.

Pawlucy has accused Gaymon of humiliating her on Sept. 28 for wearing a pink Romney/Ryan T-shirt on "dress-down" day at school.

Gaymon pointed out the shirt in class, then went into the hallway to call other students and an aide into the room to laugh at the shirt, Pawlucy has said. Pawlucy said Gaymon told her to get out of the classroom. She said she felt so humiliated she hid in the bathroom the next time she had geometry class.

Gaymon told her that wearing a Romney/Ryan shirt in a "Democratic" school was as absurd as it would be for Gaymon, a black woman, to wear a "KKK" shirt, Pawlucy said.

The teacher has not told her side of the story in public. Two of her aunts, who asked for their names to be withheld, told The Inquirer Saturday that Gaymon's comments and actions were in jest, and that she regretted them.

Gaymon has apologized to the Pawlucy family, both sides have said.

Pawlucy saw on Facebook and heard from friends that classmates were talking about hurting her, she said. She has not gone to school since the issue went public in the media last week.

Gaymon has received harassing phone calls, with one caller making a death threat, her family said. She has stayed away from the school since late last week.

The teacher's aunts called for civility Saturday, saying Gaymon appreciated the support many of her other students had given her.

Nutter's involvement raised the stakes for a civil resolution to the situation. The School District is closed Monday in observance of Columbus Day. The Pawlucys said they planned to have their daughter back in school Tuesday, with friends and family escorting her in a show of support.


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

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