Teacher Fired For Allowing Students To Write Get Well Letters To Mumia Abu-Jamal

May 16, 2015  |  

A third-grade teacher in Orange, N.J elementary school has been dismissed after allowing her students to make “get well” letters for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an American activist, journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party that was convicted and sentenced to to death for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal is one of the most highly profiled and discussed prisoners of our time.

The teacher Marylin Zuniga was suspended without pay last month for the incident. After, a board meeting last Tuesday, Zuniga has been fired. The board stated,  “Zuniga did not seek prior approval or notify parents about this “unauthorized activity. The incident reported is in no way condoned nor does it reflect curriculum, program or activities approved by the district,

During a phone interview with NJ.Com, Alan Levine, Zuniga’s attorney, stated, the school “abdicated their responsibility to the community and to the children of the school district.” and would be pursuing legal action.

 At a press conference, Zuniga also stated, Given my record, I do not believe this one episode justifies my termination. However, if the board has decided to terminate me, then I am prepared to submit my resignation to avoid the consequences to my career that would follow from termination. 
NJ.com, also explained how the letters started.
Back in February, Zuniga said she presented her students with an assignment in which they were asked to consider the main idea of the following quote from Abu-Jamal: “So long as one just person is silenced, there is no justice.”

About two months later, Zuniga said she told the students about Abu-Jamal’s failing health and they asked about writing the “get well” letters.

“In April, I mentioned to my students that Mumia was very ill and they told me they would like to write ‘get well’ letters to Mumia,” Zuniga said.

On April 5, Zuniga posted a tweet about her students’ letters being delivered to Abu-Jamal:


The letters were presented to Abu-Jamal the following day by Johanna Fernández, a professor at Baruch College in New York City and an advocate for Abu-Jamal’s innocence in the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

Zuniga has since apologized for the incident. However, many parents are still enraged by the incident. Yet, some support her. They applaud her for teaching her third grade students compassion. Hopefully, the first year teacher will find luck elsewhere.

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