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
International

South Korea ferry disaster: captain's actions 'tantamount to…

The captain and some crew members of the sunken South Korean passenger ferry Sewol have been accused of 'murderous acts' by their own president, after…

News

Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…

News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.