New Jersey Teacher Under Review For Racist Facebook Comment about Missing Girl

A teacher from New Jersey could be fired for allegedly making a controversial comment about Mexican culture while responding to a social media post about a missing child.

Jennifer Hewitt Bishop, a teacher working in the Vineland Public School District in Vineland, New Jersey, is under fire for making an offensive comment about a five-year-old girl who went missing on September 16, the Vineland Daily Journal reported.

Dulce María Alavez was last seen at a playground in Bridgeton City, New Jersey behind Bridgeton High School, according to authorities. Alavez was reportedly playing with her three-year-old brother while their mother was in the car with an eight-year-old relative, according to the Vineland Daily Journal.

When police arrived, the mother said her son ran back to the car crying and pointed to the area where he was last playing with his sister, but they could not find her. Authorities issued an Amber Alert and police believe she was taken by a man who led her into a red van.

A spokesperson from Vineland Public Schools told The North Star it “was made aware of an offensive and unacceptable social media post allegedly made by a district employee” on September 20. In a Facebook comment about Alavez’s abduction, Bishop allegedly wrote the five-year-old girl’s mother was in the car when her daughter disappeared because "they're Mexican, it’s their culture. They don’t supervise their children like we do,” the Vineland Daily Journal reported.

Two Facebook users sent the comment to the district, which passed it onto the district’s superintendent Dr. Mary Gruccio and to the Executive Director of Personnel for Vineland Public Schools Dr. Joseph Rossi WNBC reported. Rossi said in a statement to the Vineland Daily Journal that Bishop’s comment was “offensive.”

“Central administration began an immediate investigation and confirmed the post was made by a district teacher,” Rossi said. “Appropriate action was taken.”

A spokesperson from the district wrote in an email to The North Star that the Board of Education Personnel Committee was updated about the incident on September 25 and a district legal counsel is currently reviewing the situation.

Alavez has currently been missing for more than a week and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) added the five-year-old to its Missing Persons List. On the day of her disappearance, Alavez was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with a koala on the front, black and white pants with butterflies and flowers on them, and white dress sandals. She has brown eyes, long brown hair, and is approximately 3 feet tall, according to authorities.

Police told WNBC that Alavez was taken by a light-skinned man who appeared to be between 5-ft, 6 in and 5-foot-8 inches tall with a thin build. He was wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black T-shirt. The suspect was also clean-shaven and had acne on his face.

Anyone with information is urged to call the FBI's Toll-Free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Then select option 4, and then select option 8. You can also contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

In June, a mother from New Jersey was beaten by a 13-year-old boy who was bullying her son at school and calling him ethnic slurs. Beronica Ruiz, 35, was walking home with her 12-year-old son and her one-year-old daughter from her son’s school at The Gifted and Talented Academy in Passaic, New Jersey when another student from the school approached them, according to a press release from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.

The 13-year-old attacker reportedly hit Ruiz, which caused her to fall onto the sidewalk and lose consciousness. The teen also hit her son in the face. Ruiz was taken to the hospital following the attack and was treated for facial fractures and a concussion.

Ruiz’s attorney, Daniel Santiago, previously told NJ Advance Media that Ruiz was in the hospital for two days and suffered from a fractured eye socket, bruises, and a bloodied eye.

Ruiz previously told WNBC that the attacker was bullying her son days before the attack occurred and told her son to “go back to Mexico,” even though her son is a US citizen.

“They told my son Mexicans should go behind the wall,” Ruiz previously told the news station.

The attacker was arrested and charged with one count each of aggravated assault and simple assault, according to the prosecutor’s office statement. He was released to his parents pending an appearance in Family Court.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.