A New Jersey school teacher faces discipline over a Facebook comment she made about Mexican people while discussing the disappearance of Dulce Maria Alavez, a 5-year-old girl who vanished last week from a park in Bridgeton.
Joseph Rossi, executive director of personnel for Vineland Public Schools in South Jersey, told NBC News in a statement that the district was made aware of the comment Friday and immediately began an investigation.
Dulce was reported missing Sept. 16 after she vanished from City Park. Her mother told authorities that she last saw her daughter playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother while she was in her car about 30 yards away with an 8-year-old relative.
The mother said she began searching for Dulce when the 3-year-old came back to the car alone.
The teacher, identified by the district as Jennifer Hewitt Bishop, was responding to a post someone else wrote questioning why Dulce's mother was in her car at the time her daughter vanished, writing: "They're Mexican, it's their culture. They don't supervise their children like we do."
The comment was flagged to the person who monitors the district's Facebook page and then forwarded to Rossi and the district superintendent.
Efforts to reach Bishop for comment were not immediately successful.
Rossi said the comment was "offensive and "unacceptable."
"Appropriate action was taken. An outcome will be reached after consultation with the Board of Education's Personnel Committee," he said in a statement, adding that Bishop "is not in a classroom."
Authorities have said that they are searching for a man, possibly Hispanic, who they say led Dulce from the park to a red van with a sliding door and tinted windows. The van drove away from the park around 4:20 p.m. on the afternoon the girl vanished, according to a statewide Amber Alert.
A $35,000 reward is being offered for information about her disappearance.