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September 25, 2019

Vineland teacher under fire for Facebook comment about missing South Jersey girl's mother

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Dulce Maria Alavez Source/Bridgeton Police Department

Dulce Maria Alavez, 5, went missing at Bridgeton City Park in Cumberland County, New Jersey on Sept. 16, 2019.

A Vineland public school teacher could face discipline after leaving a racially disparaging Facebook comment related to the disappearance of 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, who went missing from a park in Bridgeton on Sept. 16.

The Vineland Public Schools' Facebook page received several reports that an in-class resource teacher made an offensive comment about Mexicans.

“They’re Mexican, it’s their culture. They don’t supervise their children like we do,” teacher Jennifer Hewitt Bishop wrote, according to school district investigators.

School officials became aware of the Facebook post on Sept. 20, according to The Daily Journal. Hewitt Bishop was identified and pulled from the classroom this week as administrators discuss possible repercussions.

Alavez went missing from Bridgeton City Park in Cumberland County after she and her younger brother had been playing on a playground there together. The sibling's mother remained with an 8-year-old relative in a car parked about 30 yards away. Alavez hasn't been seen since.

The FBI placed the girl on their "Most Wanted" list of kidnapped and missing children this week as an intensive search for the girl continues.

The Vineland School District's executive director of personnel, Joe Rossi, described the Facebook comment as "offensive, inflammatory and entirely unacceptable" in a statement to The Daily Journal.

The school board's personnel committee is expected to meet Wednesday to discuss discipline for Hewitt Bishop.