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.”
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.
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 publicschoolreview.com.
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.