Watch: Devil's Advocate? Ill. Teacher Under Fire for Creating Hostile Classroom Atmosphere

Friday August 20, 2021

Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson  (Source:Morton High School webpage)

A group of students have spoken out against a high school teacher for accusations of homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and racial insensitivity expressed in her classroom, Illinois television station WMBD reports.

For weeks the station was investigating Kim Johnson, who is accused "of using her 'American Problems' class as a platform to make shocking comments on topics including race and same-sex marriage," Pink News wrote.

"Superintendent Jeff Hill says there is an investigation into these claims, and those making the claims say they're hoping for results," reported WMBD.

"I feel that she is exacting and hateful," 2017 graduate Maya Phan told the station. "I don't think that there are any words that can quite accurately describe the amount of damage that she has done as an educator."

Maya Phan, one of the Morton High School students speaking out against teacher Kim Johnson
Maya Phan, one of the Morton High School students speaking out against teacher Kim Johnson  (Source: WMBD)

Johnson is presently teaching part-time French at Morton and is no longer teaching the 'American Problems' class. But back in 2016, when Phan was in her 'American Problems' class, Phan claimed Johnson use the classes 'open debate' forum as a platform to express her own views and make harmful comments.

"She told me that should would be okay with me being stopped in an airport for no reason just because the way that I worked," Phan said. "She proceeded to ask if I was gay in front of the entire class. She warned, a boy, that to be careful at a college party because girls like to cry rape."

Another student, who came forth anonymously, said: "I remember like comments being made, like if you were gay that was because like you were unwanted in your parents womb.",

She also said Johnson would claim to play Devil's advocate on certain topics like race in gay marriage, but says she instead created an environment for her and other students to freely express hostility.

"Every time I left the classroom like I felt like I was just like, shaking and like nervous," she added.

The anonymous student is one of three who have made a formal complaint against Johnson with the high school's administration.

Another student, Andrew Irwin, told WMBD: "Kim Johnson shared with our class that she thought being gay was a choice. And it was at that time that it became clear to me that there wasn't going to be a lot of productive learning going on in that classroom."

He alleged Johnson would hug students, sit on their desks and bring her religious views into the classroom, making him and others uncomfortable. "She was incapable from what I can tell from separating her responsibilities as an educator with her religious beliefs."

With allegations mounting, WMBD went to the source, emailing, messaging and calling Johnson directly three times, and received no reply. They also emailed the school board president for comment, who said they have nothing further to add other than the superintendent's comments.

Superintendent Jeff Hill said that "the district is aware of the allegations which are currently under investigation, but due to its ongoing nature, they can't comment further, WMBD added.

Some of the students and parents met with the superintendent and principal of Morton High School last Friday to discuss the allegations. During the Zoom meeting superintendent Hill said they have to consider and investigate everything from all sides before making any final decisions. He said, quote, "as a school district, and as an employer, our employees have rights as well. And so we have to do our due diligence, as we wrote through this process."

The group now making a push to the district to take action, hoping to spare future students the same experiences.

"I never want to have someone go through that again, because it's terrible."

And as of this time Johnson still hasn't responded to our requests for comment. Superintendent Jeff Hill affirms again that the district can provide for the comment, due to the privacy of those involved in the ongoing investigation.