AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
The post was in response to an article a former student shared about Thunberg visiting Iowa City. The former student asked, "Who's all going," to which the teacher, Matt Baish, reportedly replied, "dont [sic] have my sniper rifle."
Some saw the post as a violent threat, while others described it as sarcasm.
Concerned parents flooded West High School officials with complaints, with some expressing concerns over their children's safety.
On Friday, the Waterloo Community School District told parents they had placed Baish on administrative leave pending an investigation.
An Iowa high school teacher has been put on administrative leave after writing a Facebook post that some interpreted as a violent threat against teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The post, written by West High School science teacher Matt Baish, was in response to an article former student Mason Severson shared about Thunberg's appearance in Iowa City. Severson's caption read: "Who's all going ?"
Baish responded by writing, "dont [sic] have my sniper rifle," KWWL reported.
Baish's reply has since been deleted, but references and replies to it can still be seen in the comment section of Severson's post. Baish's statements received mixed reactions online, with some considering the phrase laced with violent innuendo while others interpreted it as mere sarcasm. Some of those who took offense demanded Baish's total removal from the school.
The Waterloo Community School District did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. The school's faculty social media policy asks employees to refrain from posts that include "threats of physical or bodily harm."
Baish put on administrative leave amid safety concerns
At least one West High School parent, Anne Phillips, said she feared for children's safety following the post.
"I was honestly frightened," Anne Phillips told KWWL. "I was pretty shocked that sort of comment would be made to someone in the same age group as the kids he was teaching."
With complaints flooding in, the school district ultimately made its decision to place Baish on leave on Friday.
"We wanted to make you aware of a social media situation involving one of our employees," a Waterloo Community School District spokesperson said in a message sent to parents and teachers and seen by KWWL. "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."
This was not the first time Baish drew criticism for a controversial political statement he made online.
In July, according to The New York Times, Severson published a post about Democratic representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, who are collectively known as "The Squad." Baish reportedly replied, "all 4 should be out of office...worst Americans in my lifetime." Baish appears to have since deleted that post.
Baish did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.