Adria Zawatsky is a sixth-grade English teacher at Paulo Intermediate School in Staten Island, New York and angered one dad with an assignment that politicized her feelings toward President Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
The worksheet asked students to fill in the blank on the following sentences:
“8.) President Trump speaks in a very superior and _________ manner insulting many people. He needs to be more ________.
“9.) Barack Obama set a ________ when he became the first African American president.”
The answers Zawatsky was looking for on number eight were “haughty” and “humble.” For number nine, the teacher wanted “precedent.”
When Vincent Ungro’s 11-year-old daughter brought the assignment home, he was outraged. He allowed his child to turn in the work with those three answers left blank and wrote the teacher a note:
“Please keep your political views to yourself and do not try to influence my children on them. Thank you, Mr. Ungro.”
The teacher took away 15 points from the worksheet for the incomplete answers and defended the assignment in a note back to the father:
"Firstly, I do not believe I was expressing a political view at all on my vocabulary sheet. My reference to President Trump was about his personality traits rather than his ability as a president.”
But Ungro felt there were “a thousand sentences that she could have used besides disparaging our president.”
Zawatsky, a 12-year veteran at the school, had a letter of reprimand placed in her personnel file. The principal said, “We have clear standards and regulations in place to ensure school staff maintain neutrality with respect to their political beliefs while in school.”
Ungro was happy with that outcome as he wasn’t attempting to get the teacher fired or suspended; he just wanted to send the message that “she should have known better.”
He was happy to teach his daughter a “valuable lesson,” as well:
"That she should stay strong with her beliefs even if it's not the beliefs of her peers. That you don't have to block traffic, wear silly costumes or destroy other people's property to be heard. Through patience, persistence and the power of the pen, you can accomplish many things."