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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Kearny school says action was taken against teacher who preached religion

By Ken Thorbourne, The Jersey Journal, November 16, 2006

Kearny school officials said yesterday they have taken "corrective action" against a history teacher who was recorded by a student preaching about heaven and hell in the classroom.

Neither Superintendent Robert Mooney nor Kearny High School Principal Alfred Somma would say what actions were taken against David Paszkiewicz, but both said further action might be taken if necessary.

Matthew LaClair, a 16-year-old junior, said Paszkiewicz spent the first week of class telling students that if they didn't accept Jesus, "you belong in hell." He also dismissed as unscientific the theories of evolution and the "Big Bang" in favor of creationism, and told his class that dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark, LaClair said.

LaClair said he wanted to report Paszkiewicz to school administrators but feared no one would believe him. So he began recording the teacher's lectures.

On Oct. 10, LaClair met with Paszkiewicz, Somma and the of the school's social studies department. At first, Paszkiewicz denied the al legations and the adults in the room appeared to believe him, La Clair said. But then, LaClair produced the tapes.

Yesterday, Mooney and Somma defended Paszkiewicz as an outstanding teacher.

"I think (Paszkiewicz) was trying to have a high-level discussion with his students," Mooney said. "Right now he has to be very careful. But I also don't want ... him to throttle down the level of discussion based on this issue."

Mooney said Paszkiewicz made his comments in the context of discussions about the effect religion had on the shaping of America.

Paszkiewicz, a youth pastor at Kearny Baptist Church and a teacher at Kearny High since 1992, did not return phone calls for comment.

Meanwhile, LaClair said he has been shunned by his fellow students for reporting the teacher.

"I lost a few friends," LaClair said yesterday. "I don't really hold it against them. I hope over time we'll get back together."

As LaClair spoke to a reporter outside the high school yesterday, several students taunted him while others glared as they passed by.

"Mr. Paszkiewicz is an outstanding man," said 16-year-old Stephanie Formoso, a member of the crew team coached by Paszkie wicz and one of his history stu dents.

"Matt set him up," Formosa said. "Mr. Paszkiewicz would al ways say (when he spoke about religion) 'In my opinion.' He never pushed his beliefs on anyone."


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