Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vegan Teacher Quits His Job And Files A Child-Endangerment Lawsuit Against School... Because They Serve Milk

An art teacher removed from the classroom for encouraging pupils not to eat meat vowed not to return to Fox River Grove Middle School until it eliminates milk and all other animal products from the lunch menu. Dave Warwak, 44, also said he plans to ask the McHenry County state's attorney to file child-endangerment charges against the school district because the school continues to promote milk and other animal products as part of a healthy diet. Warwak said he was not fired or suspended during a meeting with school officials and representatives of Fox River Grove District 3. But he said he is not returning to class. Of particular concern to him, he said, are posters in the school cafeteria that promote milk. While vegetarians stay away from meat, vegans such as Warwak shun all animal products. "I can't really see working there as long as those milk posters are up and they keep feeding poison to the kids," said Warwak of Williams Bay, Wis., who said he began his vegan lifestyle in January.District 3 Supt. Jacqueline Krause did not return a telephone call seeking comment about her meeting with Warwak. Principal Tim Mahaffy has repeatedly declined to comment. McHenry County State's Atty. Lou Bianchi was cautious when asked about criminal charges against the school district. Warwak has not yet spoken with Bianchi's office. "We will listen to just about anybody," Bianchi said. "It sounds pretty unusual. I'd look at the endangerment statute again. But you have to prove intent. They're just trying to feed kids." Warwak has been a teacher at the McHenry County school for eight years. The district, he said, should be training its teachers about "humane education." Warwak said he asked district officials during the 20-minute meeting whether they would consider making the school menu offerings all vegan but received no reply. They wouldn't answer his questions, he said, so he didn't feel obligated to answer theirs. They called that insubordination, according to Warwak, who said a lawyer was with him during the meeting. "I don't like them making this about me when it's really about them," he said. Warwak said he was asked to leave school last week because he refused to stop discussing animal-cruelty issues with students. He gave his 8th-grade pupils a book, "The Food Revolution," by John Robbins, subtitled, "How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World." His efforts have gained praise from animal rights groups. Warwak described himself as a former fishing guide who sold his boat and tackle. "Now I'm spreading the word and trying to help people," he said.