Northeast Times

Family of Port Richmond’s “Romney T-shirt girl” to sue

Sam­antha Pawlucy, 16, pic­tured, is in­ter­viewed on Oct. 9, the first day she re­turned to Charles Car­roll High School after al­legedly be­ing mocked for her Rom­ney T-shirt by a teach­er there. She later left the school. STAR PHOTO / SAM NE­W­HOUSE

The fam­ily of a Port Rich­mond teen­ager who was al­legedly mocked by a teach­er for wear­ing a pro-Mitt Rom­ney T-shirt is now su­ing the Phil­adelphia School dis­trict over the in­cid­ent.

It star­ted in a Port Rich­mond high school with a pink “Rom­ney-Ry­an” T-shirt. Now it may be end­ing in fed­er­al court.

The fam­ily of Sam­antha Pawlucy filed a fed­er­al law­suit in late Decem­ber against the Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict and former Charles Car­roll High School geo­metry teach­er Lynette Gay­mon, claim­ing that the civil rights of Pawlucy, a 16-year-old tenth-grade stu­dent, were vi­ol­ated on Septem­ber 28 when Gay­mon ri­diculed a pink Mitt Rom­ney T-shirt Pawlucy was wear­ing dur­ing a school “dress-down” day.

Gay­mon, who is black, re­portedly told Pawlucy that her wear­ing a Rom­ney-Ry­an shirt would be like Gay­mon wear­ing a Ku Klux Klan shirt.

The law­suit states that Pawlucy was ex­posed to emo­tion­al dis­tress in front of class­mates be­cause she ex­er­cised her First Amend­ment rights.

Pawlucy fam­ily at­tor­ney Wally S. Zi­mo­long de­clined to com­ment on the law­suit Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“Everything we have to say is in the law­suit,” Zi­mo­long said.

He also de­clined to com­ment on where Sam­antha is now go­ing to school, cit­ing at­tor­ney-cli­ent con­fid­en­ti­al­ity. Pawlucy and her sib­lings all with­drew from Phil­adelphia pub­lic schools after the in­cid­ent be­came na­tion­al news dur­ing last year’s elec­tion sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, dur­ing class on Sept. 28, Gay­mon ordered Pawlucy to re­move the shirt, and then asked an adult teach­er’s aide to help, who al­legedly tried to draw an X through the “Rom­ney-Ry­an” logo.

The law­suit states that Gay­mon’s com­ments im­plied that Pawlucy was ra­cist and a KKK sym­path­izer. It also states that the school’s “de facto pro­hib­i­tion” on stu­dents wear­ing pro-Rom­ney T-shirts in Phil­adelphia schools is a vi­ol­a­tion of the First Amend­ment.

The law­suit asks for dam­ages and a ju­di­cial or­der that the school dis­trict does not en­gage in this activ­ity again.

Gay­mon later pub­lic­ally apo­lo­gized to Pawlucy at a school as­sembly, but that apo­logy was not wit­nessed by Pawlucy – who, on her first day back at school after the in­cid­ent, was un­able to stay for the en­tire day due to claimed emo­tion­al dis­tress.

Pawlucy en­dured on­line in­sults from class­mates re­lated to the in­cid­ent, she told Star, in­clud­ing ac­cus­a­tions that she “was ly­ing for at­ten­tion.”

Gay­mon’s aunt, who wished to be iden­ti­fied only as Cheryl, told Star after the in­cid­ent that Gay­mon was re­ceiv­ing threats and in­sult­ing mes­sages in­clud­ing ra­cial slurs, but that “she feels bad for Sam­antha more so than for her­self.”

The Pawlucy fam­ily has stated that they will no longer speak with the me­dia.

Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict spokes­man Fernando Gal­lard did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on the law­suit or wheth­er Gay­mon is still teach­ing at Charles Car­roll.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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