Wichita teachers union president under fire after comments caught on hidden camera

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The leader of the largest teachers' union in the state was under fire Tuesday night. A hidden-camera video showed the president of the United Teachers of Wichita making shocking comments, and admitting to threatening students with violence. 

The footage was taken at a hotel bar during a conference in Orlando. It shows a disturbing conversation Steve Wentz had with an undercover journalist. Wentz, allegedly shown on the right side of the screen in the video, was secretly being recorded. He described an encounter in a classroom where he asked a former student to stay late.

"So the bell rings and everybody leaves, and I go over, shut the door, lock it, pull the shades down, take all my s*** out of my pockets and I go, 'Do you really want to kick my a**?'" Wentz was shown saying.

The unseen journalist in the video is part of a controversial organization called Project Veritas. The group is working on a series targeting teachers' unions,  and the recording is part of an undercover investigation. 

"I've done this more than once, and I said, 'But I guarantee you, I will kick your f****** a**,'" added Wentz.  

As union president, Wentz represents more than 4,000 educators. Until last summer, he worked as a psychology and world history teacher at Southeast High School. His former colleagues were taken aback after watching the video.

"That should have never happened or been said," said substitute para-educator Brittiney Hardwell. 

"Threatening a student is not where you go, no," said Southeast High physical education teacher Mike Schartz. 

Wentz went on to say in the video, "The union would throw me under the bus". So a KAKE News crew stopped by the union office for his side of the story. We were told Wentz was gone for the day. 

"(Have) you heard about the video?" we asked.

"Yes," a union office employee replied.

"Is that why he's gone today?"

"No, he's gone for a meeting," said the union office employee.

KAKE News also knocked on his door at home and made several calls to no avail. 

Amid the surprising allegations, educators in the district split sides on whether they continue to support Wentz. 

"I respect him. I joined the union because of Steve Wentz," said Schartz. "I believe in what he can do for teachers." 

"I'm glad that he's a former teacher. That's all I can really say about that, because I wouldn't want him working with my children," said Hardwell.

Wichita School District spokesperson Susan Arensman issued a statement about the video: "As we would with any allegation, we are following protocol and investigating appropriately. There is nothing more to share at this point." 

Wentz is still a school district employee, serving as a substitute teacher while working as union president.