N.J. elementary teacher suspended after controversial assignment

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A protestor in Washington, D.C. holds an image of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death.  (Photo: Getty Images, file photo from April 24, 2012)

A protestor in Washington, D.C. holds an image of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. (Photo: Getty Images, file photo from April 24, 2012)

ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey school district has suspended a teacher for asking her third-grade class to write “get well” letters to a sick inmate convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman.

Orange School Superintendent Ronald Lee said in a statement Friday that school administrators “vehemently deny” any knowledge of Marylin Zuniga’s assignment. Lee says preliminary inquiries found that Zuniga didn’t seek approval nor were parents notified.

The letters were delivered to Mumia Abu-Jamal (MOO’-mee-ah ah-BOO’ jah-MAHL’). The former Black Panther is serving life in prison for the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia Officer Daniel Faulkner. His family said he was hospitalized last month to be treated for complications from diabetes.

A supporter, Johanna Fernandez, says Abu-Jamal was released from the hospital on April 1 and was returned to the prison. She says she brought him the letters.

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