Marylin Zuniga had her third grade students in New Jersey write get well letters to an ailing man in February. That might seem like a thoughtful activity but the school board isn't seeing it that way because the receiver of those notes is Mumia Abu-Jamal — a convicted cop killer.
Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. His family says he was hospitalized for complications from diabetes. Zuniga says she did not teach her students about Mumia's trial or the facts behind the case.WABC reports that Zuniga was, at first, suspended without pay and apologized for the assignment.
"It's been very, very emotional. It's been a hard time. I miss my kids as much as they miss me."
Then this week, Newark's Star-Ledger reports that it took the school board less than three minutes to vote unanimously in favor of firing her.
Zuniga claims she has support from several people who have praised her for teaching her students to have compassion for an inmate.
She said in a statement, "There's people around the nation who support me, who believe I need to be reinstated and I believe that I need to be reinstated. My students need me in the classroom. My students have requested that I come back to the classroom."
The hashtag #ISupportMarylin was started on Twitter following her suspension.
One user said, "because she deserves her job; she cares for those students and certainly teaching them real history is enriching."
But others used the hashtag to voice their opposition to the assignment.
@LumbersexualJew said, "Wonder how #ISupportMarylin ppl would feel if their kids were told 2write2 #GeorgeZimmerman (who wasn't convicted of murder)."
And @Falconeddie1 tweeted, "#ISupportMarylin to be fired and lose her teaching certificate. Her job was to teach reading writing etc. This crosses a line."
Zuniga says she is now considering taking legal action to get her job back.