Yesha Callahan

NJ Teacher Suspended for Having Students Write ‘Get Well’ Letters to Mumia Abu-Jamal

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 9.48.10 AM

An Orange, NJ school teacher has been suspended after she had her 3rd graders send ‘get well’ letters to Mumia Abu-Jamal. Marilyn Zuniga didn’t have permission from school officials to send the sentiments, and was suspended on Friday.

“The Orange Public Schools was surprised to learn through recent news reports that one of its teachers, Ms. Marilyn Zuniga, a third-grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary School, involved her students in a ‘get well’ letter-writing assignment to convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal,” Orange Superintendent Ronald Lee stated.

“The school’s principal and district administrators vehemently deny that it had any knowledge of the assignment and preliminary inquiries find that no approval was ever sought nor were parents notified about this unauthorized activity,” the statement continued.

Abu-Jamal, who is currently on death row, was admitted to the hospital last week after suffering from issues with diabetes.

Zuniga tweeted from a now deleted account that her goal was to uplift Mumia’s spirits. Since her suspension the account has been deleted. Zuniga had the letters delivered through a friend, Johanna Fernández, a professor in the Departments of History and of Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College in New York City.

Fernandez also is part of an organization called “Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal,” a group that advocates for Abu-Jamal’s innocence in the killing. Fernandez also is one of the coordinators of the “Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.”

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Gardner

  1. April 13, 2015 - Reply

    regardless of the politics surrounding the case, i think it’s bad form to instruct kids to write to inmates. of course all kids should learn the history of black activism in this country, but sending cards crosses the line from history lesson to political statement & that’s where she went wrong.

  2. April 13, 2015 - Reply

    This story leads into a myriad of matters. The school claims
    that the NJ teacher didn’t know about the teacher’s assignment. Abu-Jamal
    (regardless if he is guilty or innocent) is known readily in the progressive,
    social justice movement. To many he’s an icon. To others, he’s a murderer. The
    teacher claims that she just wants the students to give well wishes to
    Abu-Jamal, but mainstream society plays for keeps. Since Abu-Jamal is so
    controversial in the eyes of many, I believe that that teacher should have just
    sent well wishes to him privately (if she hasn’t done already). That could have
    prevented her from being suspended. Students can learn all about social
    activism and justice for humanity in alternative ways. As for Abu-Jamal and
    having issues with diabetes, I do wish for him to be better health-wise.

  3. April 13, 2015 - Reply

    3rd graders?

    This woman has taken leave of her senses. You have to ask permission for students to do a host of things. Why would she think writing to a convicted felon would NOT be one of those things?

    She’ll have plenty of free time to write him now.

  4. April 15, 2015 - Reply

    She’s a fool.

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