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Disturbing behavior of Idaho elementary teacher ignored for years by school administrators

Disturbing behavior of Idaho elementary teacher ignored for years by school administrators

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
June 14, 2023

By Anna K. Miller and Scott Yenor

Parents of elementary students in a rural Idaho school district have been complaining about an Idaho teacher who sexualizes musical instruction. Parents claim the inappropriate behavior occurred for years before the Nampa School District started an investigation into the teacher. The music teacher, Tony Bradshaw, is still on paid leave even six months after a recent firestorm of well-documented allegations and "years of reports ignored by past principles." 

Lake Ridge Elementary in Nampa School District received many complaints about Bradshaw, according to public records acquired by the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for American Education. Bradshaw would touch himself sexually in front of students, force students to perform bizarre rituals, and pledge allegiance to the gay pride flag. When parents found out what was going on in classrooms, they filled the school’s inbox with emails beginning in January 2023. 

One parent reported that a female student was “scared of Mr. Bradshaw” and “was not allowed in his classroom due to an incident that occurred.” The incident supposedly led the school administration to direct Mr. Bradshaw to keep his classroom door open, according to emails received by the district on January 9 and 23. 

Fighting through tears, one child told her mom that Mr. Bradshaw said, “Feel the music with your bodies" while rubbing his hands up and down himself, according to an email received by the district on January 9. Parents report that the teacher pushed his sexuality on their children and “subjected [children] to sexual and inappropriate conversations that are not appropriate for a school environment or with a trusted adult.” 

Bradshaw would ask students to "do weird things like hold hands with him,” that he “dances differently with his body,” and “rubs himself inappropriately,” according to emails received by the district on January 9, 11, 24, and 27. Parents said that Mr. Bradshaw told "the students to feel the music through their body” as he started “to rub his body up and down side to side. He moved his hips and arms up and down.” 

Multiple parents stated in emails on January 9, 11, and 24 that Mr. Bradshaw taught students as young as fourth grade about his sexual orientation and the “sign language sign for gay.” At one point, Mr. Bradshaw “made hand gestures making his hands kiss.” Some students responded ‘“ew,” and then Mr. Bradshaw “began yelling at the students,” according to an email sent to district officials on January 9. Another parent stated that the teacher “frequently raises his voice at students in the classroom.” 

Two other parents who recorded an almost identical incident in a fourth-grade class said that Mr. Bradshaw told students a story “'that there were two sad, single, music notes that then came together and fell in love.’ Proceeding to take both his hands bringing them together acting like they were kissing.” He told students that it was “two boys kissing,” according to multiple emails received by the district on January 9 and 11. Parents reported that Mr. Bradshaw also read personal text messages between him and his partner to the class.

Multiple parents stated that Bradshaw had “come out as gay” and “changed his appearance” in emails received by the district on January 24, 27, and 30.  

Mr. Bradshaw forced children to “put their heads in their hands and his head in their hands while saying a term in a different language.” The emails received by the district on January 9 and 11 state that Mr. Bradshaw “raised his voice” at students who didn’t want to perform the ritual and threatened the class that “they could not leave unless they participated.” One parent stated that her daughter “did not want to do this as it made her uncomfortable, but she did it because she did not want to get in trouble.” Another parent stated that her “1st grader said that she didn’t want to do it and would rather give him a high five. Mr. Bradshaw became angry and raised his voice threatening the class that they could not leave unless they participated." The same parent states that a similar incident occurred to her children in their fourth-grade class with Mr. Bradshaw. 

Parents stated in emails to district officials on Jan 24, 27, and 30 that Mr. Bradshaw asked students to pledge allegiance to a rainbow flag on a bulletin board in place of the American flag. One parent alerted the school principal about this issue. The parents stated that the principal said, “[i]t wasn’t anything and it wasn’t implied to pledge to his bulletin board and it wasn't a rainbow.” Later that same week, the parent saw the rainbow flag on the bulletin board in person during a parent-teacher conference. 

One parent who works at Lake Ridge Elementary said in an email to the district on January 11 that students “come to see me regularly who have complained about not liking to go to music.” 

Another parent stated in an email on January 24 that “there have been things happening at the school all year (not to mention last year) and nothing seems to be getting done about them.”

A different parent reported on January 9 that her daughter, who had been upset by Mr. Bradshaw’s behavior, went to another teacher for help. The parent reports that she “was never informed or notified that my children’s class was subjected to extreme sexual harassment and grooming behaviors.” 

She continued, “[t]his is a clear example of pedophile grooming.” 

A different parent claimed that “this is not the first time something has been reported” and that she is “aware of a file of reported incidents at Lake Ridge concerning Mr. Bradshaw from past principles.” Another parent said in a January 11 email to the district, “[y]ou can interview parents from kindergarten to fifth grade and they will tell you all the same things.” "This took over seven years," said another parent regarding Mr. Bradshaw's investigation.

On January 19, the board of trustees voted to put Mr. Bradshaw on paid administrative leave while the school administrators conducted an investigation and brought recommendations to the board. On January 23, the school administration decided to allow Mr. Bradshaw to return to the school, violating the board's decision. After receiving objections from parents and board members, the school administration reversed its decision and continued with an investigation of Mr. Bradshaw.

The Nampa school district appears to have violated Idaho’s public records law by excluding numerous records in a request submitted to the district in January. The district claimed there were only three documents in fulfillment of the request regarding Mr. Bradshaw’s classroom behavior. Over a dozen records obtained through private means reveal that the district excluded pertinent information with no explanation for the exclusion of these documents. After being asked about this discrepancy, a representative of the district claimed there was a “misunderstanding” and that there were actually over 6,000 emails that should have been reviewed pursuant to fulfilling the request. 

On February 6, a parent stated in an email to Superintendent Gregg Russell and the board that the HR department was “repeatedly interviewing the same teachers at Lake Ridge” regarding Mr. Bradshaw’s behavior and that he was “going around to other elementary schools doing music workshops.” Russell responded that the district was “conducting a thorough investigation. That includes interviewing numerous teachers, staff and parents.” Russell stated that employees are not allowed to provide workshops while on leave and denied that Mr. Bradshaw had conducted workshops during his leave.

A Nampa School District representative, Kathleen Tuck, said, "The safety of our students remains a top priority for our district," but declined to comment further on the issue.

After six months of district investigation, Mr. Bradshaw is still on a paid leave of absence but remains employed as a music teacher at Lake Ridge Elementary School.

Anna K. Miller is Education Policy Director at the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for American Education. Scott Yenor is senior director of State Coalitions for the Claremont Institute and a professor of political science at Boise State University.

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