Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vineland High School security guard who posted "black thug" comment settles suit.

A security guard at Vineland High School (Cumberland County) who was fired for posting "Praying hard for the Philly cop shot today by another black thug" on her private Facebook page settled her free speech lawsuit against the school district.

According to a March 26, 2015 opinion authored by the the late Judge Joseph Irenas, Mary Czaplinski made the comment on her Facebook page on March 5, 2015 after she learned on the news that black assailants had shot and killed a black Philadelphia police officer.  The next day, she posted a photo of the slain officer with the caption  “This is what a hero looks like.”  Later the same day, she posted a comment that " there are thugs of every race" and expressed her dismay at "race cards being played all over the place."

After Vineland Superintendent Mary Gruccio and executive director of personnel Joseph Rossi were anonymously tipped off to Czaplinski's posts, she was placed on administrative leave and told to not report back to work until further notice.  She was terminated on March 13, 2015.

Czaplinski sued on March 23, 2015 and Judge Irenas denied her request for a prelimary injunction on March 26, 2015.

According to the Settlement Agreement, which was signed by Czaplinski on September 23, 2015 and by Board of Education President Scott English on October 14, 2015, Czaplinski's termination was reduced to a suspension without pay starting on March 27, 2015 and ending June 30, 2015.  She was reinstated to her position on July 1, 2015 to report to work at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.  Czaplinski was, however, transferred to a pre-school or elementary school and was required to take sensitivity training.  The agreement is subject to approval by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.