THE SIGNS were there for a peaceful ending to the Romney/Ryan T-shirt controversy at Charles Carroll High School.
By Tuesday night, however, hopes for resolution appeared to be fading. Samantha Pawlucy, the 16-year-old student at the center of the firestorm, and her two sisters will not attend the Port Richmond school on Wednesday, according to sources close to the family.
The day began with high hopes.
Military veterans were saluting, and retirees were waving American flags outside Carroll High. They were all there for Pawlucy, who was applauded by the 40 or so demonstrators when she arrived Tuesday morning. Although few knew her, they all wanted to show support on her return to school after a couple of days off.
But once she entered the school, she didn't stay for more than an hour. Her lawyer said she thought she'd hear an apology from geometry teacher Lynette Gaymon, who reportedly had heckled her for wearing the light-pink Romney T-shirt.
The teacher, however, had taken a personal day, a district spokesman said. Gaymon later was asked by the teachers union and a school district official to go to Carroll and read a statement of apology, which she did, but Pawlucy wasn't there to hear it.
Wally Zimolong, the recently hired legal eagle for the teen, said the teen left school because the teacher hadn't apologized to her in person, as was the plan. "The teacher was supposed to appear in person today and make a statement to students, apologizing and in front of" Pawlucy, Zimolong said.
"More importantly, the letter didn't contain any apology and admission of wrongdoing," he said.
In her statement, Gaymon said she was "very sorry for all of the chaos and negative attention that has surrounded our school in the past couple of weeks."
Gaymon called her comments to Pawlucy about the shirt "a light and humorous remark," adding that she didn't mean for her words "to belittle Ms. Pawlucy, or cause any harm, and I truly regret that we have come to this point."
She urged the student body to stop bullying Pawlucy, in school and on social-media sites. Both Gaymon and Pawlucy have been the target of numerous slanders during the ordeal.
"Let's get back to being the school where we care for each other and where we show up for school on time, in uniform and ready to work!" the teacher said in her statement.
Zimolong blamed the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers for the change in plans, adding that district officials, particularly Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. have been "unbelievably helpful."
Jerry Jordan, president of the teachers union, disagreed with Zimolong's version of events. Jordan said the teacher apologized in a letter written to Pawlucy and given to her parents.
The family did not receive an apology letter from Gaymon, a family source said.