Students fight for teacher allegedly fired for being transgender

Cristina Guarino is pictured here with Mr. K in 2008. She started a petition on Change.org demanding St. Francis Prep apologize for firing him, allegedly because he is transgender.

“Mr. K is the best. He’s such a great guy.”

“This man is a great GREAT teacher even though he’s transgender.”

These are the words in a post on Ratemyteacher.com from June 5, 2003 and June 8, 2010 respectively, regarding Mark Krolikowski, a teacher at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows.

Krolikowski, known to his students as “Mr. K,” taught music, social studies, a class on social justice, and a class on sexuality at the school for over 30 years — until recently, when he was abruptly fired, allegedly for being transgender.

According to a complaint filed against the school, SFP principal Brother Leonard Conway told Krolikowski, who “consistently received the highest ratings in his evaluations,” that being transgender was “worse than gay.”

For more than five years prior to his termination, Krolikowski wore hoop earrings, a French manicure, and shoulder-length hair, as well as his typical suit and tie. A parent of a freshman student complained to the principal about Krolikowski’s appearance in October 2011, prompting a meeting between Krolikowski, Conway, and Assistant Principal Patrick McLaughlin, in which Krolikowski informed them he was transgender.

According to the legal complaint, Conway and McLaughlin asked Krolikowski if he was going to “appear as a woman” in September 2012. This is also allegedly when Conway told Krolikowski he was “worse than gay.”

Krolikowski agreed to “tone down” his appearance and removed the earrings and manicure.

That same month, Krolikowski received a perfect report following a teacher observation from his department chair, who noted his “excellent rapport” with his students and clear knowledge of the subject matter.

Krolikowski was still fired, reportedly because he continued to “go his own way.”

SFP’s lawyer, Philip Semprevivo, said the school “denies the allegations completely” and that Krolikowski was fired for “appropriate and non-discriminatory reasons.” He would not expand on what those reasons were, or what might have changed after 32 years.

When one of his former students, Astoria resident Cristina Guarino, heard that he was fired, and allegedly due to his appearance, she started a Change.org petition demanding the school issue Krolikowski a formal apology.

Nearly 6,000 people have signed the petition.

One of the signatories related how Mr. K helped her get over her fear of heights on their music trip to London.

“He was afraid as well,” wrote Sabrina Piazza. “Because of him, I was able to go on the London Eye knowing that I wasn’t alone in conquering something that scares me.”

Another alumna, Maria Petrizzo, worried about the current students, some of whom could very well be gay, bisexual or transgender, she said.

“What message is that sending them, to stay in the closet and be uncomfortable in their own skin?” Petrizzo asked. “As a bisexual woman I would be broken down to tears if someone spoke to me that way.”

Guarino spoke to Krolikowski about the petition and said he was surprised at the number of people coming to his defense. While he couldn’t discuss legal matters with her, she said he seemed overwhelmed and “still pretty upset.”

“I just hope the petition at the very least shows how many people do care about him,” she said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New Apple devices include default kill switch

By Marina LopesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Apple Inc phones include a theft deterrent system that enables users to lock their devices and wipe them clean…

National

PHOTO: Photographer comes face-to-face with deadly crocodile

A deadly crocodile comes face-to-face with a courageous photographer, who manages to take a set of jaw-dropping pictures of the teeth-baring reptile.

Local

Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up on Labor Day to celebrate West Indian culture.

Local

James Michael Tyler on Gunther, Central Perk and…

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Arts

Rita Wilson joins the fall lineup at Cafe…

As a ticket-taker at the Universal Amphitheater in Orlando in the mid-'70s, actress, producer and singer Rita Wilson found musical inspiration in good supply, including…

Movies

Review: Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' is insane even for…

Kevin Smith returns to the horror genre, only with more jokes this time, with "Tusk," in which Michael Parks wants to turn Justin Long into a walrus.

Movies

Fall Arts Guide: NYC's repertory film scene boasts…

Among the best repertory film series in NYC this fall include old subway movies at BAM, Capra at Film Forum and actual celluloid at the IFC Center.

Music

Needtobreathe's revival: From broken up to resurrected

Needtobreathe talks about breaking up and reuniting while recording their latest album, "Rivers in the Wastelands."

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson,…

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson, Donald Brown

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…

Career

Here's why the newly-crowned Miss America deleted her…

Miss America pageant winner Kira Kazantsev quietly deleted her LinkedIn profile this week after her work history came under attack by conservative critics. Many of the…

Career

Zosia Mamet explains why leaning in is not…

Zosia Mamet is living proof that even if you don't think you can get a job you're going for, you should still try. Along with…