Pro-Romney teen sues school district over t-shirt flap

Posted: December 22, 2012

The parents of the Charles Carroll High School student ridiculed and ordered by her teacher to remove a t-shirt supporting Mitt Romney sued the teacher and school district on Friday, claiming the act violated the girl's civil rights.

Filed in federal court in Philadelphia, the suit says the district ignored Samantha Pawlucy's right to free speech, let other students threaten and harass her and subjected her "to emotional distress, simply because she exercised her First Amendment rights."

Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the district, said it would not comment on the lawsuit.

Pawlucy, a 16-year-old sophomore from Port Richmond, drew national headlines from the furor that erupted when she wore a pink "Romney-Ryan" shirt during a dress-down day at school in September.

According to the lawsuit, Pawlucy had worn the shirt all day when she walked into geometry teacher Lynette Gaymon's classroom.

The teacher allegedly told the teen that Charles Carroll was a "Democratic" school and that her shirt was akin to one spouting a logo for the Ku Klux Klan. She ordered Pawlucy to remove the shirt, then enlisted an aide who tried to draw an X through the candidates' name on the shirt.

Pawlucy's parents complained to school officials and the story went viral.

Gaymon later publicly apologized to the girl. But Pawlucy claims she endured ongoing harassment and threats and was unable to return to the school.

Her parents, Richard and Kristine Pawlucy, later said they hoped to transfer their daughter to a private school. The family's lawyer, Walter S. Zimolong, said Friday he was unsure where Pawlucy is enrolled.

The lawsuit claims Philadelphia School District's "de facto prohibition" on students wearing pro-Romney t-shirts violated Pawlucy's right to free speech. It also says Gaymon defamed Pawlucy by implying the teen "was a racist and Ku Klux Klan sympathizer."

Beyond damages, they are seeking a judge to enjoin the district "to make sure they don't engage in that activity again," Zimolong said.

Gaymon could not be reached for comment Friday.


Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 215-925-2649, at jmartin@phillynews.com, or @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

|
|
|
|
|