Waterloo teacher placed on leave after Facebook comment about not having ‘my sniper rifle’ for Greta Thunberg’s Iowa City visit

A chemistry teacher at Waterloo West High School has been placed on administrative leave after posting a Facebook comment about not having his “sniper rifle” for Greta Thunberg’s visit to Iowa City.

Matt Baish made his comment on a Facebook post sharing Little Village’s story about Thunberg joining the members of the Iowa City Student Climate Strike for a rally in downtown Iowa City on Friday.

Screenshot of Matt Baish’s comment.

The comment has since been deleted, and Baish’s own Facebook page appears to have been deleted as well.

“We are aware of a social media situation involving one of our employees,” Tara Thomas, director of School and Community Relations for the Waterloo Community School District (WCSD), told Little Village in an email. “The nature of the content shared rose to the level of putting this employee on administrative leave pending an investigation.”

WCSD has established policies regarding the use of social media by employees. According to its social media comment policy:

We expect conversations to follow the rules of polite discourse, and we ask that
participants treat each other with respect. Employees should not post or approve posted
comments that include:

* Profanity and vulgar or abusive language

* Threats of physical or bodily harm

* Sensitive information or offensive terms

Thomas explained that the district is determining whether the implied threat of violence in Baish’s comment constitutes a violation of its policy.

“We appreciate [the public’s] patience as we sort through the details and thank you for respecting the process,” she said.

In her email, Thomas said the district had informed law enforcement about Baish’s comment.

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