NJ principal’s ‘LOL’ text about short teacher an example of bullying, staff say
SOUTH ORANGE — A principal's controversial text about a short teacher was the subject of a public meeting Thursday night but parents did not come out with a lot of answers.
Bonita Samuels, principal of the Marshall Elementary School in the South Orange-Maplewood district, sent a picture of a student teacher who they describe as a "little person" to another school employee with the caption "lol," according to a letter signed by approximately 30 teachers. The letter was posted by The Village Green news site.
The letter did not call for Samuels' resignation but stated they had "grave concerns" about her remaining as principal.
The letter said that Samuels asked teachers for forgiveness after interim superintendent Dr. Thomas Ficarra was made aware of the December text. The teachers, however, called the incident the "latest in a pattern of bullying that has plagued Marshall School since Mrs. Samuels was placed at the helm" five years ago. The letter accuses Samuels of bullying assistants, teachers and other staff "until they transfer, resign or retire."
The teachers are concerned that Samuels did not take into account the repercussions of her text on the student teacher and the staff members she texted. They also believe Samuels cannot act without bias against small-statured employees or students.
At the Board of Education on Thursday night, Ficarra he could not talk about specifics of the incident because of state law, according to NBC New York.
South Orange-Maplewood school district spokeswoman Suzanne Turner said additional facts about the incident were learned during a staff meeting at the school on Tuesday. She did not mention Samuels by name .
"It is clear that this incident has impacted our community deeply. While the internal personnel matters are addressed, the superintendent is also working with professionals trained in restorative practices to develop a multilayered, collaborative approach to help our community heal," Turner wrote in her email.