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
Local

Interfaith leaders denounce anti-Muslim harassment in Brooklyn

Community leaders of all faiths gathered in Brooklyn on Tuesday to push back on what they described as hateful acts against the local Muslim community.

National

Parched Texas town turns to sewage water to…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita…

International

NYPD: Robber makes elderly man drive to Queens…

A robber grabbed an elderly man's neck outside a Queens supermarket, stole his wallet and made him drive to ATMs for withdrawals last week, police said.

Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

Arts

Theater: “Love and Human Remains” is like a…

"Love and Human Remains" is the worst show we've ever not walked out of.

Movies

Review: 'A Most Wanted Man' works better when…

In one of his last roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman headlines the John Le Carre adaptation of "A Most Wanted Man," about the pursuit of a Chechen refugee.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.