Stevenson Spokesman Retires After Concerns Raised Over Social Media Content, Article Response | Journal & Topics Media Group

Jim Conrey.

Stevenson High School Public Information Coordinator Jim Conrey retired from his post Monday, Aug. 4, school officials said.

The early retirement incentive that he took advantage of and that was offered to other Stevenson employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed public concerns shared with the district over content on Conrey’s personal Twitter and Instagram pages, in addition to comments he made in mid-July pertaining to a story about photos that appeared on social media showing students holding guns and one dressed like a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The photos were reportedly taken when the students were in junior high.

Conrey, who has worked at Stevenson since 1994, is also a deacon at St. Mary Catholic Church in Huntley. He was ordained to the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Rockford on Sept. 24, 2016, according to the St. Mary website.

Carolyn Pinta, the mother of an incoming freshman at Stevenson and wife of Bob, a teacher at Stevenson for 20 years, said on her BG Pride Facebook page that she recently contacted school administrators to inform them of concerns regarding the content appearing on a district employee’s personal social media pages.

“He has not only retweeted transphobic commentary, but racist commentary as well,” Pinta said on Facebook. “This is doubly disgusting.”

Conrey’s Twitter and Instagram accounts included reposts of conservative commentary on transgender, racial and social inequality issues.

On the Deacon Jim Conrey Twitter page it states: “Tweets are my own and have no connection with my employer.”

“As a gay student at Stevenson, seeing these tweets made my stomach drop,” a commenter on the BG Pride Facebook page said. “It made me realize how many staff/teachers may share his ideology. I understand he is not a teacher but if I were to have seen those comments from a teacher that I may have, I would most certainly not feel safe walking into the classroom daily, as someone who is publicly out and very proud about that.”

According to the BG Pride Facebook page, the SHS BLM Group was first to bring attention to the reposts.

Stevenson policy states that school employees “should not publish, post pictures, or engage in a dialogue whether in social media, a blog, a discussion thread or another website that compromises their professionalism, integrity and ethics as Stevenson professionals.”

The school policy also states, “when contributing to online content, employees should use good judgment and common sense; and not post defamatory, libelous, vulgar, obscene, abusive, profane, threatening, or otherwise offensive or illegal information or materials.”

Some administrators were said to be not happy with Conrey following a July 16 Journal & Topics article where it was reported photos of the students — at least one wearing a KKK costume — had appeared on Instagram days earlier. In that article, Conrey stated, “We are making it clear to them the gravity of the situation and how horrible the KKK was and is today,” Conrey said. “It is fair to say that those students and their parents are remorseful for the situation and those parents were aware of it at that time.”

Supt. Eric Twadell on Monday requested that the Journal consider deleting that statement entirely from the article’s online publication.

“After a review of the facts in this situation, we have determined that Mr. Conrey did not know whether or not more than one of the parents were aware of the picture at the time it was taken,” Twadell said. “Mr. Conrey’s factually inaccurate statement has led at least one member of our community to assume that all of the parents knew about the picture at the time and that they may have condoned the behavior of the students.”

Conrey was earning an annual salary of $121,077. He hung up the phone when contacted by a Journal & Topics reporter seeking comment prior to his retirement.


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via Journal Online

August 5, 2020 at 09:10AM

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