Falmouth school, 4th-grade teacher apologize for mock marriage to student

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FALMOUTH — Two weeks after a fourth-grade teacher “married” one of his students in a mock ceremony on the school playground, the teacher and the school principal have issued letters of explanation and apologies.

The June 18 ceremony between Plummer-Motz School teacher Paul Rosenblum and an unidentified fourth-grader “was held in response to a female student’s written declaration of affection for her teacher and her much discussed ‘marriage proposal,’ which the class determined should result in a pretend ‘wedding’ on the playground,” Principal Karen Boffa wrote in her June 29 letter.

“After much cajoling from his class on multiple occasions, Mr. Rosenblum finally decided to participate in the mock wedding,” the principal’s letter said.

As the “groom,” according to the letter, Rosenblum wore a black graduation gown and clown tie while the “bride” wore a white sheet that other students helped drape around her.

The letters from Boffa and Rosenblum were written a week after a reporter asked both the principal and the school superintendent for more information, after hearing reports that some parents were complaining about a mock wedding. Superintendent of Schools George Entwistle III, who left his job at the end of June, said it was “a personnel issue, confidential.” He said Boffa was looking into it and “it would have to be managed appropriately.”

“If indeed there is anything noteworthy or newsworthy (interim Superintendent Barbara Powers) or I would be happy to respond,” Entwistle said.

Although the mock wedding occurred on the playground, Entwistle, Powers and Boffa all called it a “confidential personnel issue.”

Several School Board members said they were made aware of the mock wedding by June 22. They said they didn’t have details and referred questions to Chairwoman Beth Franklin, who declined to comment.

According to one parent who spoke on the condition of anonymity, her child said students from other classes who were on the playground during lunchtime recess joined in humming “The Wedding March” with Rosenblum’s class as the teacher waited for a boy with a “father of the bride” tag to walk the “bride,” carrying a plastic bouquet of flowers, down the pretend aisle. The “bride and groom” exchanged makeshift rings and read wedding vows they had written, the parent said.

In a phone interview on July 2, Powers said the “flurry of questions have completely died off” and that the school had received “no complaints from parents of children in (Rosenblum’s) room.”

“We really do have complete confidence this was a judgement breakdown that won’t be repeated by this 22-year veteran teacher,” she said.

Along with copies of the letters sent to parents, Powers provided an e-mail from Janet Dye, a parent who wrote in support of Rosenblum and of the department’s handling of the incident.

“Any parent who has had a child in Mr. R’s class knows that he is energetic, honest, passionate about education and impulsive,” Dye said in her e-mail. “Though those qualities have both a positive and negative side, they are all qualities that inspire students to learn.”

Powers did not provide copies of any parents’ questions or complaints regarding the mock wedding.

Rosenblum said in his letter to parents that he is known for “incorporating playfulness into the curriculum and for a personal style that mixes humor with whatever a day’s assignments may be.”

He apologized for a “serious lapse in judgment” in what he had originally perceived as “theater on the playground – a little girl’s game of dress-up and make-believe” that he later realized “was something of much greater gravity and consequence.”

Asking for the chance to “redeem the trust of one and all,” Rosenblum said he was “SICK with regret.”

Rosenblum did not return several messages left for him at school and at home in the last two weeks. He was eventually reached Tuesday morning.

“There is nothing more to the story,” he said. “My apology is out there for all to see.”

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.