NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –– A beloved supervisor of a Long Island after school program is out of a job after explaining the Sandy Hook school shooting to children during a lockdown drill.
And now some parents are launching a campaign to get her back.
As a former NYPD officer, Gigi Kearns’ career included counseling children in her precinct about safety issues.
Now speaking out has apparently cost her her job.
Kearns ran an after-school program for SCOPE Education Services of Suffolk County, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
A new lockdown safety drill was ordered by SCOPE. Kearns, a supervisor for them for 15 years at Dickinson Elementary in East Northport, was asked to run it for 30 children grades 2 to 5.
“In the midst of the drill, some of the kids starting laughing. And then one of the children shouted out, ‘We are doing this drill because of Sandy Hook‘,” Kearns told McLogan.
Then one of the children asked, “What is Sandy Hook?,” Kearns said.
“I am a retired NYC police officer trained to speak with children on sensitive subjects such as Sandy Hook,” Kearns said.
That’s when she said she calmly and sensitively explained the shooting, McLogan reported.
The parent said young children should be shielded from the truth.
“I started showing them how I would protect them if anything happened. I think that is what they gravitated towards. There was no fear involved,” Kearns said.
But SCOPE announced it is terminating Kearns.
“We are aware of concerns of parents. All decisions are made in best interest of children attending our programs,” SCOPE said in a statement.
Dozens of parents who learned of the firing began a Change.org “Reinstate Gigi Kearns’ Position” petition.
Joan Stegner’s daughter created a petition that 75 school children have signed, McLogan reported.
“Gigi has kind of become like a family member,” said Stegner. “Somebody that everybody really feels good about her taking care of our kids.”
SCOPE said the reason behind the firing was poor judgment and stands by its decision, McLogan reported.
Frustrated parents said they have tried without success to have a meeting with SCOPE education directors.