Teacher who made ‘sniper rifle’ comment about Greta Thunberg resigns

School staff reminded ‘you can have consequences for what you say’ by union after departure

Mariel Padilla
Saturday 12 October 2019 18:39 BST
Iowa teacher makes ‘sniper rifle’ comment about Greta Thunberg

An Iowa high school teacher who was placed on administrative leave last week after he posted a threatening comment on social media about climate activist Greta Thunberg has resigned, the school district confirmed on Friday.

The teacher, Matt Baish, who taught chemistry at West High School in Waterloo, Iowa, said on Facebook on 2 October he would not attend a rally featuring Greta because he didn’t “have my sniper rifle.”

In a statement on Friday, the school, which announced on 4 October that Mr Baish had been placed on leave pending an investigation, said he had resigned on Thursday, effective immediately.

“West High School and the District are working to ensure classroom instruction continues for courses impacted by the departure,” Tara Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Waterloo Community School District, about 55 miles north of Cedar Rapids, said in the statement.

Mr Baish did not respond to calls or emails requesting comment on Friday.

The episode began when Mason Severson, 27, a former student of Mr Baish’s, asked in a Facebook post on 2 October who was going to attend a climate strike rally in Iowa City on 4 October, where Thunberg — the 16-year-old climate activist whose one-person strikes in Stockholm last year helped ignite a global movement — was scheduled to speak.

Mr Baish responded, “don't have my sniper rifle,” in a comment that has since been deleted.

Two days after Mr Baish’s post, the Waterloo Education Association, the school district’s labour union, issued a statement: “In light of recent events, the WEA leadership team has informed Matt Baish he is no longer chief negotiator for WEA.”

After the school district’s announcement that Mr Baish was on administrative leave, the union warned on Facebook to be extremely careful “of what you put on social media” because of the potential consequences of what you say.

The New York Times

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