Investigation

Missouri Math Teacher Dismissed Following Private Conservative Facebook Posts

   DailyWire.com
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A math teacher at a Missouri prep school was dismissed after backlash from a small alumni group over private Facebook posts, several of which highlighted her conservative worldview. The teacher claims that her liberal colleagues — who opt to publish their progressive views on Facebook — have faced no such scrutiny.  

Beth Reams, who spent 25 years as an involved employee at Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri, facilitated the school’s popular conservative club. In an interview with The Daily Wire, Reams stated that she avoided politics in her math classroom as she saw no use for it. However, like her colleagues, she used her private Facebook page to express her political views. 

A slew of Facebook posts reviewed by The Daily Wire found that Reams often posted conservative-minded memes. “It’s racist to think only white people can be racist,” one post with a picture of Al Sharpton read. “Good morning America! What are we offended by today,” read another. 

Her problems arose when an alumnus of Pembroke Hill, one of Reams’ former students, sent her a friend request on Facebook. The former student, a young black woman, constantly challenged and “went after” Reams for her conservative values. Many of Reams’ friends encouraged her to unfriend the former student, but she was afraid that the young woman would accuse her of “racism.”  

Reams described the environment at Pembroke Hill as “hostile” toward conservatives at the faculty and staff level, as well as for students. 

She said that following the 2016 election, her conservative club students began complaining that teachers were injecting their liberal worldview into everyday conversations. One student claimed that a teacher began the school year by stating that President Donald Trump is a “coward.” Another alleged that the teacher congratulated 18-year-olds for voting Trump out of office after the 2020 election.

In August 2020, as Pembroke Hill remained on summer break, Reams made a questionable post to her Facebook page. The post read, “the horrific truth is … if people were told to get into boxcars to be taken to ‘virus protection camps’ many of them would rush to get in line.”

Facebook/Beth Reams

She was confronted by Pembroke alumni who charged that her post had anti-Semitic undertones. Reams told The Daily Wire that she meant the post differently.

“I posted this because blindly following government mandates is what the Nazis did,” she said. “I then was told it was read as the opposite, me saying the Jews followed blindly to their deaths. No thought of that ever entered my head, ever.”

Reams opted to remove the Facebook post to avoid misinterpretations, though not before her former student could screenshot it and send it around.

Pembroke Hill’s principal and the head of human resources requested a Zoom meeting with Reams in August of 2020 to discuss the problematic nature of her Facebook post. During the virtual meeting, Reams pointed out that the meeting was inherently political as other teachers have posted on Facebook about their political views and not been reprimanded for it.

She pointed out that there were no consequences for a teacher who compared Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler or a teacher who wore a Jacob Blake shirt with faux bullet holes on the back to school.

Facebook/Beth Reams

Facebook/Beth Reams

In an effort to save her job, Reams sent conciliatory emails to the Jewish community. The principal, who worked with Beth for 20 years, opted to give her a second chance, though she needed to fulfill requirements and make apologies.

Reams had to make a public Facebook apology that she was working with the school, a Jewish community organization, and the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education to become more aware of what she had posted. She also agreed to meet one-on-one with any parent who was concerned about their child being in her classroom.

The same stipulations were not applied to the teacher who made references to Trump and Hitler.

Reams told The Daily Wire that she met one-on-one with a Jewish family at Pembroke Hill. The mother of an incoming student allegedly condemned Reams for her post, and Reams apologized and promised that it would have no impact on her child’s ability to learn math in her classroom. Reams claims that the mother and child ultimately became friends with her and were some of her most vocal advocates.

Despite Reams’ best efforts, a vocal crowd of activists continued to call for her resignation. In January 2021, a local Kansas City newspaper linked her Facebook post to a student drawing a swastika on a desk in a different classroom. The Pembroke Hill alumni Facebook page also accused Reams of a litany of unsubstantiated claims. One student accused Reams of partying with students; another claimed that Reams was responsible for putting the school’s prom on the same day as a Jewish holiday.

On February 3, the school’s headmaster held another Zoom meeting with Reams regarding the accusations made in the alumni Facebook page. Reams maintained that the accusations were false and were made by the alumni page’s most progressive members. Approximately five hours later, the headmaster informed Reams that she would be placed on a few days of paid leave while the school conducted an investigation.

After over two weeks, Reams requested another meeting with the school’s principal, Mike Hill, and Director of Human Resources Vanessa Alpert. During her two-week absence, during which the school refused to disclose to students why their teacher was missing, Reams received dozens of emails from students and multiple calls from parents asking for assistance with homework and understanding material.

On February 18, Hill and Alpert held a virtual meeting with Reams wherein they asked if she wanted to have any Jewish families speak on her behalf to quell the angry alumni. Reams, who opted to record the conversation, said that she did not discuss religion with her students during her math class. Hill condemned Reams for taking a “color blind” approach to teaching.

The conversation went, in part:

Reams: I don’t know which ones of them are Jewish, but I have no qualms with you talking to any of my students. I’m very confident in that. …

Hill: I wanted to go back to something you said earlier … If I asked you today which of your students were Jewish, you probably couldn’t tell us … One of my concerns is that you don’t have that information … What I believe we’re trying to do … is create a division and be a part of a school where not only inclusivity is important, but also awareness …

Reams: I hear you. I just think that it’s very difficult, especially in math, to get to know a lot of things about the kids, and I think religion should not come up in our math class … I think where it becomes important for me to understand [who is Jewish] is when I do see an absence for a Jewish holiday … Then, of course, it would come on my radar. I think especially, this year in particular, every teacher would agree it’s been a lot harder to get to know our students … I think it’s important that when my kids walk in the room, I’m judging them on their math.

Hill: Do you know which [students] are Latino?

Reams: I couldn’t sit here and label my kids.

Hill: Do you know which ones are East Asian? …  The whole colorblind thing … is driving me crazy. Because I think it’s very dangerous.

Hill ultimately asked Reams to return to the classroom on March 1 and continued to insinuate to Reams that she was in good standing with the school. Reams told The Daily Wire that prior to the district’s spring break, teachers receive their contracts for the upcoming school year. Reams was told that because she had not been in her classroom for more than a month, she would not get her contract until later in the school year.

By March 25, Reams requested a meeting with the headmaster and Alpert to discuss her contract. According to Reams, she was forced to leave her phone and purse with the secretary during their meeting and was not allowed to have legal representation. Reams claims that during the first hour of the meeting, school leadership berated her for her Facebook posts while maintaining that it was not political that they disliked her views.

The school offered her a contract with base pay and asked her to sign a contract that removed her from all of her extracurricular duties, which significantly lowered Reams’ salary. After pleading with the school administration to add back the extracurriculars to her contract, Reams received an email from the Head of School Brad Shelley stating that she had been relieved of her duties, in part for bringing “negative attention” to the school.

“Even after the offensive social media posts you have made and the negative attention it caused you and the School, we tried to work with you throughout the year to get to a point where we both felt good about moving forward. However, it has been apparent during and after our latest meeting that the relationship between you and the School is fractured,” Shelley said. “At this time, it is best for us to go in our different directions, therefore, the offer of employment will not be renewed.”

In an email to The Daily Wire, Shelley said that the decision to relieve Reams was not based on “outside pressure” from the alumni group or negative attention from the media.

“While it is our policy to not discuss personnel matters publicly, we will in this instance make one clarification,” Shelley said. “The decision to not renew faculty contracts is solely the decision of Pembroke Hill School leadership and in no way in response to any outside pressure or influence.”

Reams told The Daily Wire that the school tapped a liberal teacher to replace her as head of the conservative club.

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