Annella Krom

Annella Krom

Chandler Unified School District fired an art teacher for allegedly discriminating against a transgender student and bringing a box of Bibles to her classroom. 

Annella Krom’s conduct at Arizona College Preparatory-Erie was described as “objectionable, disrespectful, and unprofessional” in a report by district staff to the governing board. 

Students accused Krom of freely discussing her Christian beliefs in class and expressing anti-gay viewpoints, including she thought homosexuals were “just confused.”  

The allegations led to her termination earlier this month.

The East Valley Tribune reached out to Krom, who had been teaching in Chandler for the last three years and she referred any questions to her attorney but he did not reply.

The district report said a transgender student told administrators Krom wouldn’t allow an art project about the personal journey through transgenderism because the subject was inappropriate for a classroom environment.

“Teacher subsequently acknowledged that she rejected the topic because it conflicted with teacher’s religious beliefs,” the report states.

The student went to a counselor, who informed the school’s principal. The principal advised Krom there was nothing objectionable with the student’s project topic. 

In an email, Krom told the principal she does not condone the LGBTQ lifestyle and won’t assist in creating artwork that glorifies it, the report said. 

“Either this topic is the priority or the word of God is,” the teacher allegedly wrote.  

Krom gave the student zero out of a possible 50 points for the project, telling the principal that a higher grade would violate her conscience. 

“I understand that you are probably unwilling to change your topic at this point,” the teacher reportedly wrote to the student, “but I cannot be forced to compromise convictions.”

The transgender student asked to be taken out of Krom’s class, according to the report. 

CUSD charged Krom with violating a provision of her contract that prohibits a teacher from discriminating against any coworker, student or parent based on gender or sexual orientation. 

On Sept. 11, the Chandler Unified Governing Board determined there was good cause to dismiss Krom and placed her on administrative leave.

 She was given until Sept. 26 to request a hearing to contest the district’s allegations before termination was considered, but she never sought one.

It appears to be relatively rare for CUSD to fire a teacher in the middle of a school year. 

District records appear to show the Governing Board has not tried to terminate a teacher since 2014 and that case ended with the employee resigning.

The district’s report outlined other allegations of students feeling uncomfortable in Krom’s class. 

One student told administrators Krom questioned their pro-choice beliefs regarding abortion, gave the student a Bible, and encouraged the student to rethink their morals.   

The same student alleged that shortly after telling Krom they were agnostic or an atheist, the teacher lowered their grade on an assignment without explanation. 

“Student reasonably believes the change in her grading was the result of discrimination by teacher,” the district’s report states. 

The classroom environment Krom described on the Arizona College Prep’s website sounds starkly different from the one depicted in the district’s report. 

She presented herself as an instructor who welcomed students to be creative and expressive. 

“If you have artistic ideas that you would like to create other than the project that we are doing, we can discuss it,” Krom wrote on the school’s website. “I encourage conversation and respectful discussion.” 

The constitutional rights guaranteed under the First Amendment can often come into conflict in a public school setting. It instructs the government not to establish one religion, yet the First Amendment still entitles citizens to freely express themselves.  

CUSD argues Krom’s free-speech rights were not violated because case law has established that a public school’s aim to not favor one religion should override a teacher’s religious beliefs. 

In 1992, the federal courts ruled a California teacher’s rights were not hindered when their school compelled them to teach evolution, which conflicted with their religious beliefs.

Arizona law offers an exception for including the Bible in school curriculum if it is part of a voluntary elective course that maintains religious neutrality.

But CUSD argues Krom’s conduct did not meet this exception, particularly when she brought a box of Bibles into her classroom. 

Students claimed Krom told them the Bibles had been donated to the school and they were free to take one. A parent later notified the district after their child came home with one.

A teacher’s certification is subject to revocation if the instructor “teaches any sectarian doctrine or conducts any religious exercises in school,” according to Arizona law. 

Another allegation involving Krom included transgender students not being addressed by their preferred name or pronoun. 

According to the district’s report, a transgender student felt disrespected when Krom refused to call them by their preferred names.

Not acknowledging a student’s preferred pronoun can impact their emotional well-being, according to Madelaine Adelman, an Arizona State University professor and board member for the Phoenix chapter of GLSEN, an organization that aims to make schools more accepting of LGBTQ students.

“If someone is not calling you by your name, it means they don’t see you, they don’t acknowledge you, they don’t accept you. That you don’t belong,” Adelman said.

Other teachers across the country have been dismissed under similar circumstances as Krom’s. 

A French teacher in Virginia was fired last year because his Christian faith prevented him from referring to a transgender student by their preferred pronoun.

In 2015, a Texas woman claimed she was terminated for not referring to a 6-year-old student by their preferred gender.  

Asked whether Krom’s case has spurred CUSD to review how it trains staff, district spokesman Terry Locke said Chandler focuses on ensuring educational opportunities for all students.

“We have embarked on a multi-year effort to identify students who may be experiencing barriers to their academic success and then removing the barriers,” Locke wrote in a statement.

“This effort involves establishing a comprehensive and ongoing program to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding,” he said. 

Chandler Unified has been grappling with issues of equity and inclusion for minority groups after a couple scandals projected CUSD in a negative light. 

CUSD has responded by hiring a new administrator to oversee equity initiatives, which have had mixed responses from the community. 

Some individuals have told the Governing Board these equity initiatives don’t do enough to protect LGBTQ students. On the other hand, some parents have expressed outright opposition to equity, calling it a type of political indoctrination. 

A school’s receptiveness to adopting inclusive policies for LGBTQ students vary across the Phoenix area, according to Madelaine, who said some are eager to better accommodate them while others adamantly won’t do anything until the courts tell them otherwise.

It’s important schools make these students feel like they belong, Adelman added, or else it can have detrimental effects on their academic and emotional development.

(26) comments

MountainGuyNC

This is a simple case.



She violated the Constitution. She discriminated against students based on her beliefs rather than objective standards.



For those who defend her, imagine instead she promoted the Quran and Muslim beliefs about sexuality. Would you still support her?



People have been claiming for centuries that they know what this or that god thinks about sexuality.



Thus far, not one of them has been able to demonstrate these god claims with robust evidence.



Some will say: “The Bible says..”. OK. You like a book. Good for you. Please demonstrate its claims are accurate. Please show a donkey or snake talking. please show why Yahweh thinks shellfish is an abomination.



I’ll just wait over here eating popcorn.



Cheers and peace to all.

pussyslayer

y’all shoulda expelled the student and promoted the teacher fr

MountainGuyNC

Typically, teachers who violate the constitution are not promoted

OJ Simpson

Innocent just like me

OJ Simpson

I think she is innocent just like me

LAMBSAUCE_HOTBOX

if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.

OJ Simpson

The glove didn’t fit

Ofcrlawless

If you want to talk about make believe, there is no such thing as gender identification. You are a male or you are female.

username

you've obviously never taken honors biology or ap biology or you would know there are many more options available. you just think there are only two genders because you're only focused on genitalia.

MountainGuyNC

You are confusing gender and sex. The former is a social construct. the latter is a biological designation.

Heavy GT

These people believe that mere acknowledgement and interaction with someone who believes differently is participation in their lifestyle. The only acceptable way for them to deal with gays, trans, and pro gay students is outright condemnation, otherwise they become party to their behavior. How self centered is that? Is this what their religion teaches them, to be an ashle to other people and ignore their rights? Try not being jerks maybe that will be a better representation

rune1im

Once again, people are abusing others because of a make-believe, bearded man in the sky. Perhaps one day, descendants of xtians will be embarrassed for such behavior but until then, we humanists drag xtians, kicking, screaming and dragging their knuckles, into the 21st century.....

Comment deleted.
Weachy512

Haaaa sure you didn't, you literally discriminated against students based on their gender, sexuality, and religion (or lack of conforming to religion) and all of those things are not only wrong, but literally against rules and laws put in place to protect students, other teachers, and parents from people like you! Oh and, when I was your student last year you literally violated the rules set in place by my 504 accommodations! For anyone sticking up for her because freedom of religion, I will never ever discriminate or tell people not to stick up for themselves when someone makes them feel like they're wrong for being religious, but when your religion gets in the way of other people's freedom, rights, and happiness, especially in teacher-student type relationships that is wrong and you do not deserve to be stuck up for. Please, for anyone who believes she was right, understand that she deliberately broke rules and laws for comfort, and if we stuck up for anyone and everyone who does this, we would be sticking up for murderers, rapists, racists, etc. If you believe her discrimination is in any way okay or justified by her freedom of religion, you really should understand that she was not only expressing her beliefs, but outright forcing them on young people and when her beliefs were contradicted or not aligned with others, she would punish others, if she deserves freedom in regards to religion, so do her students! Stop sticking up for her!

Skrapiron5

They should have given you a promotion not fired you. God bless you for standing up for whats right.

Ofcrlawless

I agree!

MountainGuyNC

Why should she be promoted for hate and violation of the rules AND the constitution?



“What’s [sic] right” according to whom?

YeshLOUISBAG

WE MUST STAN 😩👌👌👌👌👌👌👌

MountainGuyNC

We must Stan lee!

Kevin C. Lichty

A wonderful juxtaposition of contradictions. [alien]

very thoughtful lichty!

ripmyhomiekrom

kevin the school needs you it is in shambles

LAMBSAUCE_HOTBOX

thank you Mr. Lichty... you are a bright light in this dark dark world.

f

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