Suburban school official quits after tweets on Women’s March

A crowd fills Independence Avenue during the Women's March on Washington following President Donald Trump's inauguration in January. | Alex Brandon/Associated Press

A northwest suburban school board member has resigned after a tweet in which he referred to women who attended Saturday’s anti-Trump marches as “vagina screechers.”

Millions of women took part in marches in Chicago and cities worldwide to support women’s rights and criticize President Donald Trump.

One of the tweets posted by Dathan Paterno reads: “Most of those vagina screechers didn’t vote, but they mean business. … What a farce.”

“In retrospect, they were inappropriate and pushed too far in some ways,” Paterno wrote in his Jan. 23 letter of resignation to the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 board of education president. “While I merely meant to harshly criticize some of the protesters [especially the very angry, hostile, vulgar and violent ones] and question the motives of some of them, my tweets were understandably misinterpreted to mean that I disrespect or hate all the protesters. Of course, this isn’t true, but the damage was done.”

Paterno’s Twitter account has since been deleted. He also appeared to have had several online exchanges with other Twitter users who objected to some of his comments.

In one of those replies, Paterno noted that some people “never protested Clinton’s massive, chronic misogyny & sex crimes.”

The letter was posted online Monday on the Park-Ridge Niles School District 64 website, with a response from Board of Eduction President Anthony Borrelli and Superintendent Laurie Heinz saying the Board will begin an immediate search for Paterno’s replacement.

In his letter, Paterno apologized for the “controversy and distraction to the Board and District 64 that my comments have inadvertently created.”

Paterno, a licensed clinical psychologist, founded and serves as clinical director of Park Ridge Psychological Services. His biography on that provider’s website states that he “affirms that all people are biological, social, and spiritual beings. He believes that all of these are relevant in assessing and responding to a person’s struggles. To ignore any of these facets of the personality, then, would be to ignore an essential facet of a person’s being, functioning, and suffering.”

Paterno did not respond to a request for comment.

In an ironic twist, one of the most famous alums from Field Elementary School in Park Ridge, which is part of District 64, is Hillary Clinton.

Paterno’s tweets sent a shock wave through the district community and Monday night’s school board meeting was packed with parents, the Daily Herald reported.

Ginger Pennington, one of several people who spoke against Paterno’s words, said both her children were with her at the Women’s March in Washington. That drew a round of applause from the parents.

“It was a very inspirational, uplifting experience,” Pennington said. “You can’t imagine the degree of my disgust and surprise to see that our own school board member was essentially calling me and my children ‘vagina screechers.’ ”

The tweet Pennington was referencing said, “Most of these vagina screechers didn’t vote, but they mean business. Riiiiiiiight. What a farce.”

Another of Paterno’s tweets suggested women shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

District parent Stacy Kelly said she found it hard to believe that the other members of the board weren’t aware of Paterno’s online behavior before his tweets over the weekend and called for an independent review of the board so the behavior will no longer go unchecked.

“If you are neutral in the face of injustice you are choosing the side of the aggressor,” Kelly said.

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Contributing: Daily Herald

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