A recent decision by the Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C in Illinois to terminate an art teacher after controversial social media posts captured widespread attention. Parents and community members expressed concern and outrage over the teacher’s posts, leading to a swift response from the school board.
The now-former teacher from William J. Butler Elementary School in Lockport, identified by some as “Kristopher Martin,” became the subject of significant scrutiny after his posts were brought to light. One post dating back to 2018 boldly declared, “I HAVE BIPOLAR 1 DISORDER WITH MANIA AND PSYCHOSIS!” The post details his claimed challenges: “Every day is a battle with my mind to survive and be the best me I can be.”
— JustNatalieK (@natalie_k76) August 21, 2023
Though many might argue that discussing personal mental health struggles can be a sign of courage, other posts raised eyebrows in a much different way. An image of a pentagram marked with “666” was discovered, as well as a post with Martin donning a shirt saying “Satan respects pronouns” accompanied by the caption “Hail Satan.”
The issue became more inflamed after these and other posts were shared on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, notably by the influential account Libs of TikTok. As the content began to circulate, parents swiftly demanded action. One local parent, Julie McDaniel, commented to WFLD-TV, “If he has his lifestyle, so be it, but that is not going to be put onto our children.”
The issue culminated in a special board meeting. The board, recognizing the concerns of parents and the broader community, decided to terminate the teacher. Superintendent Dr. Craig Schoppe released a statement confirming the decision, noting, “The Board of Education approved the dismissal of a certified employee.”
However, the termination has not put the issue entirely to rest. Some parents are pointing fingers at the school board, contending that there was a lapse in their hiring and vetting processes. Their concerns have even led to calls for unseating current board members in the next election cycle.
A sentiment of distrust can be felt among parents. An anonymous parent conveyed, “Concerning posts and pictures that were posted, and not something that I would want to expose my children to at a young age.”
In a move to restore faith and trust within the community, Superintendent Schoppe took a conciliatory tone in a subsequent statement. “As a parent myself, I understand that our families trust me to ensure high-quality education and to hire the best staff to provide that education,” Schoppe said. “I realize that I may have lost that trust from many of you, but I will work to regain it.”