EAST MOLINE, Ill. -- An Illinois social studies teacher has been removed from the classroom while district officials investigate complaints made against him for publishing a Tweet some students, parents and faculty found offensive.
Mark Kaczmarek, who teaches history and government at United Township High School along with some coaching duties, tweeted commentary about the various womens marches held in response to the Donald Trump inauguration Saturday afternoon. His tweet read: "#WomensMarch an impressive turnout. Lots of pink hats & stuff. Then they all went home to make dinner. Well done, ladies!". It included a picture of a 1950s era housewife with a mixing bowl side-by side with women marching on the U.S. Capitol.
Kaczmarkek's tweet was met swiftly with criticism both on Twitter and other social media outlets. More than 850 people had signed a Change.org petition as of Monday afternoon, accusing the teacher of consistently denigrating others via social media outlets and in the classroom.
"I had him as a teacher, he's very conservative, puts his views out, a lot of political cartoons that weren't really appropriate for the classroom," said former student Autumn Graham.
The petition reads: "United Township teachers are employed to provide instruction, educate and inform students. Our concern is that Mr. Kaczmarek's personal views and biases are taught as part of his curriculum. There is no place for bigotry, racism or sexism in the classroom, yet he consistently teaches his hate-filled views in his class. It is unacceptable for a teacher to belittle any student because of their religion, race, sex, or political views, yet it is commonplace for this to happen in his classroom. Mr. Kaczmarek's recent post on social media is only one example that reveals his prejudices that constantly spill into his classroom. This is unacceptable."
Monday afternoon, Jay Morrow, the Superintendent of the UTHS School District, released a statement saying Kaczmarek would be taken out of the classroom as the incident was investigated:
Supporters of Kaczmarek started their own petition on Change.org later Sunday. It had garnered 250 signatures by Monday afternoon. It read:
"All free American people have the right to free speech and that applies to our dedicated Teachers and their social media accounts as well. There is absolutely no proof that Mark Kaczmarek has ever engaged in any kind of sexist, racist or even homophobic hate speeches in his classroom.
We will not stand idle by while a Teacher who has given over a decade of his life to the students he cares so much for is slandered and cyber bullied by the same people who claim to be against such actions. This is unnecessary and intolerable.
Sign this petition to support Mark Kaczmarek in his time of need because if we can't have free speech then what exactly did our forefathers fight so hard and die for?"
Kaczmarek did not respond to requests for comment Monday.