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Boise teachers reprimanded for ‘all lives matter,’ Pledge of Allegiance comments

Feb. 10, 2023 Updated Fri., Feb. 10, 2023 at 7:06 p.m.

By Ryan Suppe Idaho Statesman

Two Boise high school teachers will face penalties on their teaching certificates after they made “inappropriate” comments to students, one who wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and another who remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to disciplinary reports obtained by the Idaho Statesman.

The Professional Standards Commission, an Idaho State Board of Education committee that regulates teacher certification, voted to reprimand Adrien Coronado, a former teacher at Timberline High School, and Robby Hindberg, a former teacher at Borah High School, Idaho EdNews first reported.

Coronado told a student wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt that “all lives matter” and led a class discussion about the shirt, prompting the student to leave the classroom, according to Coronado’s disciplinary report. Hindberg snapped a student’s face mask after commenting that she would likely stand for the Pledge of Allegiance if it was Mexico’s, according to a separate report.

The commission charged both teachers with violating a provision of the state’s educator code of ethics on maintaining professional relationships with students. The teachers are required to take courses on “boundaries” and “cultural responsiveness,” or risk having their teacher certifications suspended.

Both teachers denied breaking ethical rules but acknowledged there was sufficient evidence to support the commission’s decision.

Neither teacher remains employed by the Boise School District, Dan Hollar, a spokesperson for the district, told the Statesman by email. Hollar declined to comment further, citing a public records law exempting the release of personnel information.

Timberline teacher says ‘all lives matter’

In March 2022, Coronado stopped a student in the hallway to talk about the student’s shirt, which read “Black Lives Matter” and displayed images of fists, according to the disciplinary report.

The student, who was not named in the report, “did not want to engage in conversation,” the report said, but he told Coronado that “Black lives should be defended from police brutality, and that he supported” Black Lives Matter, a movement aimed at ending systemic racism and violence against Black people.

Coronado responded, “all lives matter,” and held up his fist, the report said.

On a later date, Coronado led a discussion in his marketing class about the student’s shirt and “all lives matter,” the report said.

The student believed that Coronado mischaracterized his views, “causing other students to view him negatively,” and he felt “targeted, unsafe, and misunderstood” and left the classroom, the report said.

Coronado denied that the conversation was intended to make the student feel uncomfortable or invalidate his views, the report said. Instead, it was meant to communicate that “all students matter to him.”

The State Department of Education on Tuesday sent Coronado a letter of reprimand for making “politically motivated, offensive and inappropriate comments” during class “that were not part of the curriculum.”

It wasn’t the first time the state reprimanded Coronado for making inappropriate comments to students.

In November 2021, four months before the “Black Lives Matter” conversations, the state reprimanded Coronado for giving students “pet” nicknames, “several of which related to their ethnicity or physical characteristics,” the latest report said.

He called one student “chromedome” and called other students with braids or dreadlocks “Kris Kross.” The latter is the name of a hip hop duo with two Black performers.

Coronado also joked about students’ food and culture and mimicked a foreign language, “causing the students to feel offended and alienated,” the report said. Coronado denied making such statements. He also made “derogatory comments” about President Joe Biden, the report said.

After the 2021 reprimand, Coronado said he would no longer use nicknames or discuss current events with “strong emotional ties to a particular belief system” in his classroom, the report said.

Borah teacher jokes about student sitting for pledge

In the spring of 2022, a Borah High School student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, something she and another student regularly refused to do, according to a report on the incident.

The student, who was in Hindberg’s math class and was not named in the report, had just returned from a trip to Mexico. After she sat during the pledge, Hindberg stated something like, “I bet if that was the pledge of Mexico, you would stand,” the report said.

Hindberg meant the comment as a joke, “but the student did not understand it that way,” the report said.

Hindberg then pulled a mask off the student’s face and released it, snapping it back into her face, which made her “feel uncomfortable,” the report said.

According to a letter sent Tuesday, the state reprimanded Hindberg for “inappropriately snapping a student’s face mask and using inappropriate language and behavior” when the student “exercised her First Amendment right to sit during” the Pledge of Allegiance.

Documentation of the teacher’s discipline will remain in their educator certification files, the reports said.

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