CHICAGO — Parents protested the reported firing of a South Side Catholic school principal after he chose not to enforce the Archdiocese’s masking policy.
Queen of Martyrs Catholic School principal Doc Mathius later told WGN News that while he hasn’t officially been fired, he is currently on paid leave and doesn’t anticipate being brought back.
Speaking to WGN News in a phone interview Tuesday, Mathius said he didn’t make his decision lightly.
“I just thought the time has come. Somebody has to do something,” Mathius said. “In my little tiny corner of the world, I never imagined that it would create this kind of a stir.”
The administrator, who hails more than 45 years in education and previously worked at Brother Rice High School, decided to go against the mask reinforcement with the thoughts of his students in mind.
In an email sent out to parents Tuesday morning, Mathius announced his decision that masks would be optional. About four hours later, the principal was reportedly let go.
Mathius told WGN he anticipated being disciplined.
“I expected to be terminated,” Mathius said. “I expected extreme pushback, so I was not surprised.”
Despite being relieved of his duties, parents and student in Evergreen Park, quickly rushed to Mathius’ defense and organized a rally.
“He is the best principal that Queen of Martyrs has seen in a long, long time,” protestor Ann Docherty said. “Obviously, from such a turnout on such short notice. The parents truly support him and he is a man of integrity, of leadership and intelligence.”
Also on hand for a show of support was protester John Murzyn.
“It’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous,” Murzyn said. “Doc Mathius would take a bullet for anyone. He has the kids’ best interests at heart in mind. I’m not so sure the archbishop does.
“I’m hoping the Archdiocese reconsiders this move because in my opinion, it wasn’t a good one by them.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s stance is that masks need to be worn in their schools, with some exceptions, such as when children are eating or if they’re alone in a restroom.
Mathius revealed he went against the Archdiocese’s decision because he felt it was the best for his students.
“I value my position at Queen of Martyrs,” Mathius said. “I’ve made such great friends and colleagues. The parishioners, the school families, they’re just wonderful, and it breaks my heart to be separated from them now. I thought it was worth doing.”
The Catholic school principal adds that while he is thankful for the outpouring of support, he would like the focus on students moving forward.
“I had nothing to gain by this, only to lose,” Mathius said. “Principals come and go. That parish and school has stood there a long time and I want nothing but the best for it.”
On Tuesday, WGN News reached out to the Archdiocese, but they declined, saying they don’t comment on personnel matters.