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Sweden Dem teacher let go after student revolt

Published: 17 Mar 2014 14:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Mar 2014 15:28 GMT+01:00

"Students quickly made us aware that they had misgivings about his suitability," Internationella Engelska Skolan, located on Södermalm in Stockholm, said in an official statement on its website on Monday.

"We had a thoughtful and eloquent communication from students detailing that they would not feel safe if this subsitute were to start teaching with us," school spokesman Jonathan Howell told The Local. 
 
"Of course we take student views very seriously and it is important that our students feel safe and secure at school."
 
The Nyheter24 newspaper spoke to the student who first alerted her classmates to the new teacher's political affiliation by tweeting about her outrage.

"We're an international school with big diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, and religion where we all respect each other," student Julia Cagan told Nyheter 24. "Therefore I took for granted that something like this would never happen in our school".

The teacher in question, Anton Stigermark, said he was surprised by the decision to let him go. 

He was brought in through a temping agency, the school was quick to point out. His party affiliation is no secret.

On his own Twitter profile, Stigermark said he was studying international relations at Stockholm University, and said he liked right-wing ideas and the beauty ideals of the antiquity. Up top, however, he flags his role on the cultural affairs committee of the Sweden Democrat youth wing, SDU. At a recent meeting, he proposed that the EU flag be removed, according to a party colleague.

"Anton Stigermark proposes that the EU flag be removed from the room, which is voted through and executed to everyone's applause. Very good! ”  

The girl who initiated the student revolt said she believed that would-be teachers with "undemocratic views" should be barred entry to the profession. The school, meanwhile, issued a statement to say that it did not generally probe its potential new staff members about their political views.

"It is not standard practice to question the politics of staff during the recruitment process," the school wrote in its official statement.

School administrators nonetheless passed the students' concerns - expressed in writing and signed by Cagan and a handful of other students - on to the staffing agency and the teacher will no longer teach at the school.

SDU on Monday officially objected to the school's decision.

"I think it's deplorable and worrying from a democratic view point," SDU chairman Gustav Kasselstrand told The Local. "It's been very clear that Anton did not mix politics in his teaching." 

Swedish teachers are prevented by law from expressing support or criticism for political parties.

"Had he done so it would have been a different matter entirely, but in this case the school has chosen to listen to a small clique of left-wing, undemocratic students."

Kasselstrand said it was not relevant that the school in question had a multicultural student body.

"No, not all all. If that were the case, then students in a school with many right-leaning pupils could move to get a Social Democrat teacher let go," he told The Local. 

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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