A Fuquay-Varina High School teacher is apologizing for an online article he wrote comparing the school to a Nazi death camp and suggesting that it had turned a student gay.
But some parents and students still think Ray Fournier should be disciplined or even fired for the story that ran online for the Christian magazine “No Greater Joy.”
“Walking through the gates of the public high-school where I teach feels as if I were walking into a concentration camp dedicated to the spiritual death of those imprisoned behind these walls,” Fournier, a biology teacher, wrote.
The magazine has since replaced the online version of the article with his apology letter.
Fournier, a self-described “local evangelist and public school missionary” who has taught at the school since 2000, did not respond to messages left with the school, on his email account and on his personal phone.
“Some people might not understand the seriousness of the spiritual destruction of our children and as a result, might come to the conclusion that I am being disrespectful to those families who directly suffered in the holocaust,” he wrote in his apology.
But that wasn’t enough for some parents, who have filed official complaints about Fournier.
“I hope that he loses his job, unfortunately,” said Krista Bennett, a parent of a student at Fuquay-Varina High. “I hope that they let him go, and he can go find a job at a fundamentalist Christian college or school.”
The district’s policies do include a broad provision that teachers must adhere to conduct that will protect the “integrity and/or reputation” of both themselves and the school system as a whole.
It’s unclear if Fournier’s article, which is critical of public schools, might be judged under that provision. Lisa Luten, communications director for Wake County Schools, confirmed that the district is investigating but said she couldn’t offer any other details.
A senior at the school, Lauren Foster, said she was one of the first students to find out about the article. It does not mention Fuquay-Varina High by name, though it’s not difficult to determine where Fournier teaches.
Foster promply shared it with her 1,000 Twitter followers.
“Anyone who talks so poorly of my school, compares it to a concentration camp, blames the public school system for ‘turning people lesbian’ and (says public education) makes teenagers lose their morals is outright ridiculous,” Foster said.
But Mark Youmans, who graduated from Fuquay-Varina High last year and is now at Liberty University, said he thought the article was spot-on except for the Holocaust analogies.
“There was a lot of adversity I faced, being a Christian,” Youmans said, adding that the only C he received in high school was for a paper on creationism.
‘Poison’ public education
In the original article, “From Behind Enemy Lines,” Fournier talks about a family from his church who home-schooled their children until high school.
“It was as if their daughters were placed inside a spiritual gas chamber,” he wrote of when they entered Fuquay-Varina High.
Fournier said the “poison” of public education even turned one of the girls into a lesbian.
“My heart broke each and every time I saw her walk around campus with her girlfriend,” he wrote. “I can only imagine how utterly devastated her family must feel.”
The central message of the article – which was promoting his book, “Education Reform: A Teacher’s Call For Christian Parents To Abandon The Public Schools And Return To The Word Of God” – is that parents should home-school their children.
Youmans, despite his general defense of Fournier, said he disagreed with the teacher’s thesis that responsible Christian parents must home-school.
He quoted the New Testament’s Book of James, in which the author instructs Christians to rejoice when their faith is tested because it will strengthen their belief.
“I appreciated it,” Youmans said of his time in public school. “I would not have it any other way.”
Agree with him or not, Youmans said, Fournier shouldn’t be punished for publishing his opinion.
Others said while they don’t think Fournier has to be fired, he should be held accountable for his admittedly “inflammatory” rhetoric.
Former student: ‘That’s not OK’
“I wanted someone in a position of power, which I do not occupy, to tell him that that’s not OK,” said Kyle Groetzinger, a former student of Fournier’s now at Appalachian State University.
Foster, the Fuquay-Varina High senior, said she has heard some teachers discuss the article, but that as of Monday, no teachers or administrators had acknowledged the issue with the student body.
“I think the school is trying to be very quiet about it,” she said.
The school’s new principal, Jonathan Enns, did not respond to multiple messages.