Teen returns to school after Romney T-shirt flap

October 9, 2012 3:44:18 PM PDT
A 16-year-old high school sophomore who says she was ridiculed by her geometry teacher for wearing a Mitt Romney T-shirt returned to school Tuesday following a rally by cheering supporters.

Samantha Pawlucy hadn't been back to Charles Carroll High School in the city's Port Richmond section since last week. That's when she and her family say she was mocked by her teacher for wearing the shirt supporting the Republican presidential candidate. She said the teacher questioned why she was wearing the shirt and called others in to the room to laugh at her.

Pawlucy, whose family had expressed concern for her safety, returned Tuesday after a rally that featured supporters singing the national anthem and reading the First Amendment - as well as shouts of supporters calling "Go, Sam!" and "You're great, Sam!"

"What that teacher apparently has done is unconscionable. She singled out one kid. These are young people. They can be influenced," Jim Rongione of Upper Dublin said.

"It's bigger than all of us, it's about the country, it's about the constitution," Bill O'Neil of Holland, Pa. said.

Pawlucy wore the pink "Romney/Ryan" shirt to "dress-down" day on Sept. 28. She said that during class, Gaymon pointed out the shirt, questioned why she was wearing it and told her to leave the classroom. Gaymon, Pawlucy said, said it was a "Democratic" school and compared it to wearing a "KKK" shirt.

The school's principal read students a letter of apology from geometry teacher Lynette Gaymon on Tuesday.

"I'm very sorry for all the chaos and negative attention that has surrounded the school in the past couple of weeks," she wrote. "What I meant as a light and humorous remark during class has developed into a huge conflict between students, faculty, parents and neighbors. My words were never meant to belittle Ms. Pawlucy, or cause any harm, and I truly regret that we have come to this point."

Although she says she's received threats on Facebook and Twitter, Samantha said she wasn't afraid to go back to school.

Her father, Richard Pawlucy, said the family met with Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter on Sunday night to discuss a resolution.

"This is all great and everything, but we just wanted her to go to school and live a normal life," father Rich Pawlucy said.

Philadelphia school superintendent Dr. William Hite was at the high school for Samantha's return.

Hite has said he would work with Nutter and the teacher's union to move "towards a conversation that brings together diverse beliefs, inspires understanding, and heals."

Samantha was asked what she's learned from this experience.

"It's right to do what I believe in, perseverance, not to give up and fight," Samantha said.

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