Following a petition by “concerned parents” calling for the ouster of Iron Maiden-loving high school principal Sharon Burns over the “satanic” imagery associated with the band, the school board has ruled that she can remain at her job.
As previously reported, a petition sought to have Burns removed or transferred from her position at St. Catherines High School in Ontario, Canada after she posted two images on social media expressing her fandom of Iron Maiden. One picture had her posing in front of an Iron Maiden-themed license plate and other band paraphernalia, while the other had a handwritten sign that read “Eddie 666” next to a figure of the band’s skeletal mascot on a car dashboard.
The original Change.org petition read, in part, “As concerned parents with impressionable children at Eden High School in St. Catharines, Ontario, we are deeply disturbed that the principal assigned to the school blatantly showed Satanic symbols and her allegiance to Satanic practices on her public social media platforms.”
When the petition started to make headlines, the “concerned parents” added, “Please Note: This petition is NOT about Sharon Burns’ love for Iron Maiden. At NO POINT has it ever been. This petition is about a principal of a school openly displaying her OWN handmade sign with the 666 clearly displayed on it.”
A counter-petition launched by students and parents in support of Burns ended up getting more than 20,000 signatures, far more than the 500-plus people who signed the one calling for her ouster.
Burns made no statement herself, but a school board spokesperson told the National Post, “As you can imagine, Principal Burns, like all of us, is quite surprised by how her Instagram post led to two petitions and grew to be a topic of interest around the world,” said Kim Sweeney, chief communications officer for the District School Board of Niagara. “We know Ms. Burns as a passionate and dedicated educator who is happiest when she can focus on and connect with her students.”
Sweeney added, “Our belief is that taste in music is subjective and we support that both students and staff enjoy a wide variety of genres.”
The original petition has since been taken down, but not before the parent who launched it added, “Sharon knows full well what she did was simply inappropriate, unnecessary and not professional but has yet to publicly admit so and is willing to allow people to believe a completely different story, making very real concerns seem petty.”
As for the story making international headlines, St. Catherines city councillor Karrie Porter commented, “I’m surprised it blew up in the way it did. It is funny, silly and frustrating all at the same time.”
Burns has since removed the social media posts in question, but still describes herself as “fueled by metal & ska” on her Twitter handle. Screen captures of the social media posts from the petition can be seen below.