Iowa teacher placed on leave after 'sniper' comment about Greta Thunberg visit

A high school teacher in Iowa has been placed on administrative leave after he posted a threatening comment on Facebook Thursday in response to a news story about the local visit of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Waterloo West High School science teacher Matt Baish posted “don’t have my sniper rifle” next to a story about the Swedish student’s trip to Iowa City Friday, The Des Moines Register reported.

Others responding to Baish were horrified by his comment. Screenshots of his remark, which was later deleted, were posted on the Waterloo Community School District Facebook page, according to the newspaper.

Parents emphasized to a local news station that Baish made the threatening comment about a child the same age as students he teaches. That means students can enter a classroom “where they don’t feel safe, where they don’t feel they can share their opinion, where they don’t feel respected” said one mother (see the video above). “We as parents have to stand up against that.”

Parents, teachers and students at Waterloo West High School received an email from Waterloo Community School District officials Friday about Baish being placed on administrative leave.

“We are aware of a social media situation involving one of our employees,” the statement said. “The nature of the content shared rose to the level of putting this employee on administrative leave pending an investigation. We appreciate your patience as we sort through the details and thank you for respecting the process.”

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Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg
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Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg
Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg greeted as star at Montreal march
Swedish activist and student Greta Thunberg walks off the stage after addressing the Climate Strike in Montreal, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
Climate change teen activist Greta Thunberg signs a book as she receives the key to the city from Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante after a climate strike march in Montreal, Quebec, Canada September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Andrej Ivanov
Swedish environmental teen activist Greta Thunberg speaks after the climate strike march in Montreal, Quebec, Canada September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Andrej Ivanov
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, right, shakes hands with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during the Youth Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg, left, speaks at a House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee hearing on climate change Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, center, who has called on world leaders to step up their efforts against global warming, applauds remarks by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, at a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, center, marches with other young climate activists for a climate strike outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg arrives outside the United Nations to participate in a demonstration, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 in New York. She is to speak at the U.N. Climate Change Summit on Sept. 23. She'll join world leaders who will present plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, left, meets with U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garces, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. Thunberg is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Climate activists hold a sit-down with peace sign gestures during a climate strike outside the United Nations, Friday Aug. 30, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg participates in a Youth Climate Strike outside the United Nations, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 in New York. Thunberg is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, sails in New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The zero-emissions yacht left Plymouth, England on Aug. 14. She is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, speaks in front of a crowd of people after sailing in New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The zero-emissions yacht left Plymouth, England on Aug. 14. She is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, sails into New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The zero-emissions yacht left Plymouth, England on Aug. 14. She is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Swedish 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg sails underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on the Malizia II racing yacht in New York Harbor as she nears the completion of her trans-Atlantic crossing in order to attend a United Nations summit on climate change in New York, U.S., August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
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A police spokesman told the Des Moines Register that law enforcement is also investigating Baish.

Baish could not be reached for comment.

Waterloo Schools’ social media policies warn staff to “think twice before posting” and advise not to post or approve comments that include “threats of physical or bodily harm.” 

Thunberg joined more than 3,000 activists at a “climate strike” Friday in Iowa City. Demonstrators demanded that the University of Iowa and the city agree to a climate accord which calls for both entities to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030 — and demands the university to cease burning coal at its power plant.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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