A teacher in New Jersey who assigned her third-grade class to write “get well” letters to a sick cop killer was suspended Friday, the school superintendent said.
Orange School Superintendent Ronald Lee said in a statement that school administrators “vehemently deny” any knowledge of Marylin Zuniga’s assignment. Preliminary inquiries found that Zuniga did not seek approval from administrators nor were parents notified, Lee said.
The letters were delivered to Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison following his hospitalization last month for what his family said was treatment for complications from diabetes. The former Black Panther is serving life behind bars for the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His conviction was upheld through years of appeals, but he has gained international support for his claim that he is the victim of a racist justice system.
Philadelphia’s police union expressed outrage over the cards.
“It’s not a good use of school time. It’s absolutely not teaching them anything except how to interact with a convicted cop killer,” said John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police.
A supporter and history professor at Baruch College, Johanna Fernandez, showed Abu-Jamal the letters while she visited him Monday.
“I think he was touched,” Fernandez said.