Kensington Private School Substitute Teacher Fired For Involvement in White Nationalist Movement

Kensington Private School Substitute Teacher Fired For Involvement in White Nationalist Movement

School president said man used alternate identity as part of extremist, racist activity

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Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington

Via Facebook

An all-girls Catholic school in Kensington has fired a substitute teacher after learning of his activity in the white nationalist movement.

Greg Conte, a former substitute teacher and field hockey coach at Academy of the Holy Cross, is the full-time director of operations for a think tank led by white nationalist Richard Spencer, according to a Splinter article. He has joined Spencer during demonstrations in Charlottsville, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., the article stated.

Conte had been using the pseudonym “Greg Ritter” in his white nationalist activities. The academy learned in late October about  of his ties with the movement, the school’s president wrote Thursday in a message to parents. Kathleen Ryan Prebble, the academy’s president and CEO, didn’t immediately notify parents of the situation and wrote Thursday that students had started hearing about the incident over social media.

“The information they are receiving is accurate, including his admission that he was fired from Holy Cross immediately after his affiliation with the ‘alt-right’ came to my attention,” she wrote.

She told parents she’d investigated Conte’s interactions with students and found no evidence that he’d tried to push his philosophy while at the academy.

“It appears that at the time he was focused on maintaining an appropriate persona for our school environment,” Prebble wrote.

Conte did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

White nationalists generally believe in white supremacy and support enforced racial segregation. Prebble said the academy sees white nationalism as a racist movement that is in conflict with the school’s values.

The National Policy Institute, the think tank where Conte reportedly works, appears on a Southern Poverty Law Center list of hate groups.

In a phone interview Friday, Prebble said the allegations about Conte’s involvement with white nationalism came to her attention in late October when a few, concerned people contacted the school. The school looked into the allegations and fired Conte a couple of days later when Prebble found the claims were legitimate.

“Before his alternate identity was brought to my attention, we had absolutely no reason to think he was affiliated with a movement that was in direct opposition to our mission,” she said.

Prebble said Conte did not deny his affiliations when she confronted him.

Since Conte’s firing, he’s dropped the pseudonym in many cases and has spoken about his departure from the academy on a  podcast he hosts with Spencer, according to Prebble. Recent articles by Splinter and Fortune detail Conte’s involvement with  the National Policy Institute and the website Altright.com.

Prebble said Conte started coaching at the academy in August 2014 and later began substitute teaching. He received a small stipend for serving as a junior varsity field hockey coach and cross-country assistant coach, she said.

Asked why the school didn’t contact parents at the time of Conte’s firing, Prebble said that she believed her email Thursday “covered sufficiently this very sensitive matter” and that she would continue to answer questions from students and family members.

The school held a roughly 30-minute meeting Friday to talk about the situation and give students a chance to discuss their concerns. Prebble said she explained to students that the school’s decision to dismiss Conte had nothing to do with intolerance for varying political views.

“This is not about being conservative versus liberal. This is not about right-wing politics versus left-wing politics. It is a movement that embraces implicit or explicit racism,” she said. “It’s about extremism and hate, and that’s not who we are.”

She declined to describe how the school concluded that Conte’s views didn’t affect students.

The academy, founded 150 years ago by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, teaches about 470 students in grade 9 through 12. Prebble said the academy has a diverse student body, with about 43 percent self-identifying as non-white.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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