NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Education has suspended the teaching certificates of a former high school teacher who came under fire seven years ago for speaking against the sin of homosexuality on Facebook.
As previously reported, Jenye “Viki” Knox, 56, first came under fire in June 2011 after she posted comments on Facebook decrying the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle Union High School.
The school had reportedly erected a display in acknowledgment of “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Month,” which featured popular homosexual celebrities.
“It’s still there,” she vented on her personal Facebook page. “I’m pitching a fit.”
The status then began to spark discussion, which turned into a controversy when others were offended by her comments.
Knox, a born-again Christian who also had served as the adviser for the school’s Bible study group, defended the Bible’s position on homosexuality when others challenged her status.
“God cannot abide, tolerate, accept, go along with sin. That’s why Jesus came and gave his life as an offering for our souls; so we could once again be right-standing,” she responded. “Everything God has created, Satan has perverted, everything! Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong.”
Knox had also allegedly made comments on a post from a fellow teacher, who stated that they planned to start a “gay-straight alliance” at the school.
“Well, if I knew UHS was going to Hell in a handbasket before I know it for sure now!” she wrote.
A disturbed parent of a student then contacted an attorney, who wrote to the school district to ask that Knox be terminated for her “hateful” comments.
Although Knox explained that her posts and comments were private and not meant for public viewing, administrators decided to place her under an official investigation. The investigation then turned into the lodging of tenure charges, specifically “unbecoming conduct.” She was suspended without pay.
Knox, who had been teaching for 20 years, Knox decided to retire under disability pension instead of facing a hearing about the matter. She also filed a federal lawsuit, contending that her First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion had been violated. The suit has since been settled, but under a confidentiality agreement.
“These Facebook posts that she made were done on her time, at her home, after school hours, on her home computer, and it was addressing a matter that could arguably be of big societal concerns,” attorney Demetrios Stratis told NJ.com.
However, the New Jersey Department of Education sought to revoke her three teaching certificates, a decision that Knox appealed to the Office of Administrative Law.
“After the teaching certification matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for hearing, Knox presented a proposal to the board in which she would agree to a three-year suspension of her certificates. Knox did not admit or concede the truth of the allegations in the Order to Show Cause,” the State Board of Examiners wrote in an Order of Suspension, dated Dec. 8, 2017.
The board agreed to the proposal and suspended her elementary School, teacher of nursery school and teacher of the handicapped certificates immediately.
Public comment about the matter has been mixed.
“I think at this point, it’s been established: You can say whatever you want, and your employer can fire you if they want. You won’t go to jail, or have the govt. come after you, but you can be fired,” one commenter wrote. “At this point, I don’t have sympathy for people who step on this rake.”
“I am personally not a fan of the homosexual lifestyle, but she should know better not to say these things on Facebook and social media, where everything is scrutinized,” another opined. “Be careful of what you say online in the 21st century.”
“Part of the detestable gay agenda is to marginalize those who who hold opposing viewpoints by labeling them bigots, haters, etc., silencing them and if possible having them removed from jobs, office, etc.,” a third stated. “Much like abortion, they’ve lost the intellectual and scientific debate, so the tactic becomes ‘You shut up.'”