An after-school supervisor in Long Island, New York, says she was fired after answering a question from a student under her care about the Sandy Hook massacre.
Former NYPD officer Gigi Kearns said she was fired from supervising after-school activities for answering a question about one of the deadliest massacres in American history, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting on December 14, 2012.
According to the New York Daily News, the 52-year-old said she was supervising the first-ever after-school lockdown drill at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School last month when six boys started giggling and acting “silly.” Kearns stated another student tried get the kids to behave saying, “Come on guys, knock it off! We’re doing it because of Sandy Hook.”
When the drill was over, the after-school supervisor pulled the 7 and 8-year-old boys who were creating the problem and tried to explain what had happened at Sandy Hook Elementary and the importance of the drill. Kearns was “shocked” to hear one of the boys ask, “What’s Sandy Hook?”
Kearns spent eight years with the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side before retiring due to an injury in 1998 and thought she had the experience to explain to the boys the importance of this type of drill. The after-school supervisor felt compelled to talk to the children about the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, shooting that left 20 young children and six-school staff dead at the hands of gunman Adam Lanza.
“I started showing them how I would protect them if anything happened,” Hearns told WCBS-TV. “I think that is what they gravitated towards. There was no fear involved.”
However, the program terminated her after-school supervisor position and fired her, citing what they called poor judgement and complaints from several of the kids’ parents.
“I don’t understand,” GiGi Kearns said. “You have someone who can keep your kids safe, and you get rid of them. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Kearns pointed out she had worked for the SCOPE Education Services, which provides services to school districts in New York State, for 15 years. Her police training also included talking to children about stressful situations. The children asked to see pictures, and Kearns showed them some on her phone and explained that Lanza was a “bad guy” who went into the school and killed his victims without going into detail.
When the children were picked up from the after-school program, Kearns explained what she had happened to the parents and five of six of them were grateful and expressed as much. However, one was obviously upset with her.
Days later she was called by her SCOPE supervisor and told she was being suspended pending an investigation into the incident. A week later, she was fired for “using poor judgment.”
“We are aware of concerns of parents,” SCOPE said in a statement. “All decisions are made in best interest of children attending our programs.”
The after-school supervisor — who is also a mother — doesn’t understand how her explanation of the Sandy Hook shooting could have landed her unemployed. SCOPE Executive Director George Duffy said he could not discuss personnel matters. Since her dismissal, more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition for her reinstatement.
[Image via Twitter]