PS 34 teacher referred to students as ‘future drug dealers and criminals’ in email


In an email obtained by Hudson County View this week, a teacher at Jersey City’s PS 34 – with a student body that is approximately 90% black and Hispanic – referred to pupils as “future drug dealers and criminals.”

PS 34 - Google

Emails obtained by Hudson County View this week depict a hostile work environment, as well as derogatory comments from a teacher about students, at Jersey City’s Public School 34.

In a March 17, 2014 email from PS 34 teacher Lynn Zahn to fellow PS 34 teacher Alexis Allen-Penn, Zahn expresses her frustration with Allen-Penn for allegedly allowing Zahn’s students to “talk to you and tell lies on me.”

Zahn also told Allen-Penn that she was being “irresponsible and unprofessional,” and that teachers like her “make these future drug dealers and criminals feel they can do whatever they want.”

According to public records, Zahn has been working in the district for twenty years.

Lynn Zahn - Alexis Allen-Penn email

Allen-Penn wrote to Jersey City Schools Superintendent Dr. Marcia Lyles on March 25, 2014 about the email – which was forwarded to Hope Blackburn, General Counsel for Jersey City Public Schools, on March 26, 2014 – in addition to other issues she alleged were occurring with Zahn.

According to emails between Allen-Penn and Blackburn from March 27, 2014, Blackburn was to meet with Valerie Morris – the District’s affirmative action officer – on March 28, 2014 regarding the situation at PS 34.

In an email seeking comment on this story, and whether the district took any action against Zahn, Blackburn said “we take these issues very seriously” and that “since this is a personnel issue, we cannot comment on it publicly.”

PS 34 has a student body that is approximately 90% black and Hispanic, according to

Drama around PS 34 went public at last week’s Jersey City Board of Education caucus meeting, when Allen-Penn and fellow PS 34 teacher Patricia Jacobs – facing the possibility of being transferred to separate schools at the time – claimed administrators in the school were instigating problems between them.

The board unanimously approved the transfers at it’s regular meeting two nights later, which highlighted divisions between staff and tension between union representatives in the building and school administrators.

Both Jersey City Education Association President Ronnie Greco and PS 34 PTA President Maureen Rios spoke about the “divided” atmosphere within the school, with Greco going so far as to say a reconstitution of the school may be needed.


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    • To Guy, If you have already given up on “these babies”, what chance do they have? It’s true that children learn what they live, and good teachers have made the difference in many children’s lives in spite of the many frustrations. That’s what make teachers special.

  1. It’s a shame these children are already labeled in a negative way. As a teacher we must look at the positive and nurture these children. Ms.Zahn evidently has always been racist and now that it is out she should be fired.

  2. I feel it’s very upsetting to know that we have teachers educating our children with this mindset. This view point from this teacher is racist and puts or children at a disadvantage from the start just by being in her classroom because she feels these children aren’t worth it.

  3. Ms.Zhan where is your passion for the profession and if you feel this way why are you at PS.34. I know for the pay check so your just as bad as the criminal you speak of .

  4. As being one of the students that personally dealt with Lynn Zahn when she was a 6th grade social studies teacher. Im 29 years old now and as soon as i saw this i yelled “ITS ABOUT TIME THEY EXPOSED HER ASS!!”. I always knew she thought less of us as students and my parents nor the principal at the time Ms.Foster believed me. I personally had issues with her when i first transferred to ps34. When i got there all of the teachers/students were so far behind from where my teacher at ps41 left off before I transferred.

    Every year Ms.Zahn gave students a project that took about a month to do, and I got to the school during the final week of it and she expected me to do it in one week and everybody else had an entire month to do research and stuff, so I refused to do it. Well she kicked me out of her class for the rest of the school year because of it and if I didn’t have an A+ in social studies before leaving ps41, i would have gotten left back all because I refused to do a project that everybody else had a month to do. So I spent April-July unable to go to her class and it seemed like none of the staff cared.

    I wasn’t a bad kid, I never even got suspended nor had to spend time in detention until i got to PS34. Never was a drug dealer nor a criminal, but if that’s what she’s thought about all of the children that grow up in that area over the last 20 years then shes actually part of the problem. I had great teachers after her that loved teaching. I still sit back and talk about the good teachers that made an impact on my life. The ones that always stick out is Mr.Abissi who was a 7th grade math teacher and Ms.Smith who was my 7th and 8th grade english teacher who then went and became principal of ps41. Some of us weren’t the easiest to deal with but they got through to the majority of us. Lynn Zahn has been there for 20 years and if she felt this way, she should have moved to a different district by now.

    Im happy she finally got exposed for the monster that she’s been for the last 2 decades.

  5. Lynn Zhan puts on this act that she is so distraught and that the children are so out of control but she is the one who is out of control how dare you attack all of our children believing they will all become drug user or criminals. How Dare You!

  6. I would like to commend Ms. Allen-Penn for her bravery,morals and staying true to herself by honoring the oath she took as a teacher, I would walk past every current celebrity to shake your hand as I truly appreciate and respect you and your actions.

  7. Ms. Zahn wasnt even giving a slap on the wrist she is still there. They need to remove the principal she is the problem with a lot of issues in that school but thats just my opinion