Illini West teacher sparks controversy

A parent speaks in support of Hoener.

UPDATED: December 19th at 2:45 p.m.

Illini West Superintendent Kim Schilson confirmed that there will be a Conflicts and Mysteries class next semester.


UPDATED: December 18th at 10:15 p.m.

It was a full house Wednesday night at the Illini West School Board Meeting.

Around 60 people came out to show support for a high school teacher whose classroom curriculum has stirred controversy.

Greg Hoener teaches a "Conflicts and Mysteries" class, which according to enrolled students, is a college level, elective class.

Hoener recently came under public scrutiny when he had a Wiccan come speak during class.

It was also mentioned at the meeting that certain people complained about the violence students were exposed to in the class.

Current and former students, parents, Carthage residents, and members of local law enforcement came to show support for Hoener tonight.

Hoener himself spoke at the meeting, saying it was not his intention to offend anyone.

He pleaded with the board to not take the class away from him, for the sake of the students.

"A couple months ago, I had a speaker, and I never intended on offending anybody. And if I did, I publicly say "It's my fault, and I'm sorry." But I want everyone to understand my goals when I have speakers, activities, demonstrations, field trips, all that we do. My goal is to give my kids, a first hand knowledge and experience so they go out in the real world, and they're able to stand on their own two feet, and be better prepared to make the right choices and decisions in this real world," Hoener said.

Parents who spoke at the meeting say they were aware of what went on in the class, and that every student had to have a parent's signature stating they understood who would be speaking

One student who spoke was Madison Clark who is currently enrolled in the class.

Clark says she supports Hoener and feels that should the school board take the class away, it would have a negative impact.

"I being a member of one of the most conservative religions in the area, and in the world so to speak... I actually found it very enlightening and historically enlightening. I love history and I thought this was a great opportunity to learn something new. This is not an issue about religion, it's about ignorance," Clark said.

Clark said a preacher is scheduled to also come in to speak in the class, and because of time constraints, the two were not able to speak together.

She also mentioned that the Wiccan who spoke for the class is a mother of a student at the high school.

According to Madison's mother, Anne-Marie Scott, Hoener made it very evident of what the curriculum would consist of, and that several notices were sent home, notifying parents who would be speaking.

"I would hate to see an opportunity like that be removed for future students some of which are my own children," Scott said.

The board went into closed session following the public opinion portion of the meeting, and has not announced a decision as to whether any action will be taken against Hoener.

----- ORIGINAL STORY: December 18th at 9:22 a.m.

An Illini West teacher is now under fire after bringing a unique guest speaker into his class.

Greg Hoener teaches a conflict and mysteries course.

He recently brought in Wiccan, for discussion which outraged many parents.

A meeting is being held Wednesday night at 7 p.m. to talk about the issue.

Several current and previous students are expected to show up in support of Hoener.

KHQA will have more information following the meeting.

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