A school district in Pittsburgh recently placed a school psychologist on leave after some offensive tweets he made came to light.
According to KDKA, on Wednesday night, Beaver Area School District employee Matt Rehm tweeted to a radio host the words:
Naturally, those words are disturbing when they come from anyone, let alone a school professional. Equally as disturbing, however, was the context surrounding that tweet.
KDKA reports that 93.7 The Fan host Colin Dunlap tweeted out a photo of himself and his family dressed in Halloween costumes at Disney World. It included a daughter who’d been diagnosed with leukemia last year. According to KDKA, they were all wearing “traditional German lederhosen” outfits.
That is the photo that led to Rehm tweeting out the suggestion for the man to end his own life.
Dunlap, however, seemed to be unfazed, responding:
Nah. I’ll elect to have fun with my family instead.
Rehm tweeted once more, writing:
Ok. Just leave your penis in the ladies room.
Then, Dunlap posted the correspondence to his own Twitter feed:
Goes back on vacation. pic.twitter.com/iTB0GGi1fP
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) November 2, 2017
The tweets left people shocked. Even fans who seemingly didn’t like Dunlap or his radio show wrote no one deserved to be told to kill themselves:
Jeez. I hate your opinions but don’t want you do pass on. Hope this doesn’t happen a lot, you suck at your job but do not deserve that
— JT (@Pens3Peat2018) November 2, 2017
Even if you despised everything a person said, why would you ever say this? Crazy
— Matthew Erb (@theerb3246) November 3, 2017
And, of course, people were especially outraged after discovering that Rehm was a school psychologist:
Omg is this guy for real????
— Katie (@eitakhindes) November 2, 2017
Yep. He was actually a School Psychologist for the Beaver Area School District…. doubt he’ll be employed by the end of the day.
— Taylor Ferguson (@taylorferg20) November 2, 2017
I’m glad he was called out. He was a big man behind his keyboard thinking he could bully with impunity. His account is now gone. #ByeTroll
— Gretel Egan (@gretelegan) November 2, 2017
Huh. Someone from the world of academia tweeted those. I’ll be darned.
— Ignatz Laird (@IgnatzLaird) November 3, 2017
After learning of Rehm’s comments, the Beaver Area School District released a statement to KDKA which read, in part:
We hold all of our educators to a high standard of ethics, civility and commonsense both inside and outside of the classroom. This morning, the District put Mr. Rehm on immediate leave. I want to personally apologize on behalf of the District for this extremely unfortunate incident.
As a district, we care very much about the mental health and well-being of our students and I want to send a strong message that comments of this sort, whether sent with ill intent or not, are completely and utterly wrong.
And later, Rehm issued his own statement to KDKA apologizing to Dunlap, his family, and the community:
Social media sometimes has a way of bringing out the worst in all of us. Today, I learned that I am no exception. In a completely misguided attempt at humor and the lederhosen costume in Mr. Dunlap’s photo, I made an inexcusable comment. I apologize sincerely to both him and his family and hope they will forgive this error in judgment.
I also want to apologize to the entire community, including students and parents. This incident serves as a reminder of how important it is to think before we comment. Words matter, and kindness is more important than trying to get a quick laugh.
It’s unclear for how long the school district will keep Rehm on leave, and whether it finds his apology to be sincere. The incident is still reportedly in the process of a full investigation.
If Rehm is, in fact, permitted to return to his job, the question remains if parents and students will be able to ever move past those two “inexcusable” words he wrote.