Teacher returns to school with new role

Shiba Pillai-Diaz sparked controversy with classroom bulletin board

SOUTH BRUNSWICK — Shiba Pillai-Diaz has returned to school.

The Crossroads South Middle School teacher who sparked national attention when she refused to remove her picture of President George W. Bush from her classroom bulletin board, has returned to the classroom, teaching basic skills to third- and fourth-graders at Brooks Crossing Elementary, according to her attorney Brian F. Curley.

According to Curley, Pillai-Diaz, school officials and the district’s attorney held extensive meetings last week to decide the future of employment of Pillai-Diaz. No formal legal settlement was reached, Curley said.

Curley said Pillai-Diaz was set last Thursday to return to her position at Crossroads South Middle School, starting on Tuesday. But conflicts occurred again between Pillai-Diaz and school district officials when Schools Superintendent Gary McCartney requested Pillai-Diaz issue a statement to parents of her students offering an explanation of the events.

Pillai-Diaz and her attorney disagreed.

A statement to parents, Curley said, should be made by the Board of Education because Pillai-Diaz had not done anything wrong. Parents, Curley said, deserve an explanation from the school board and the wrong tone would be set if Pillai-Diaz was forced to issue a letter.

McCartney declined to comment further on the situation.

By late Thursday, Curley said, Pillai-Diaz was informed she would not be returning to Crossroads South, but would be sent to Brooks Crossing Elementary.

Curley said the board offered no explanation for the reassignment, other than Pillai-Diaz would be needed at the elementary school.

The board’s reversal of its original decision, according to Curley, acknowledges that the accusations of wrongdoing by Pillai-Diaz were overblown and not supportable.

Pillai-Diaz, Curley said, should have returned to her original classroom, but was anxious to return to teaching.

Pillai-Diaz, according to Curley, is still evaluating her legal options.


Staff Writer