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Ventura County teacher removed from school after rant against vaccines and Biden

Ventura County
A Ventura County teacher went on a conspiracy-laden tirade in class.
(Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

A Ventura County middle school history teacher was removed from her position after she was captured on video delivering a conspiracy-laden tirade against vaccinations and the family of President Biden during class.

In footage recorded Oct. 18, which was brought forward to the Ventura Unified School District by Sarah Silikula, the mother of a student who recorded the video, an Anacapa Middle School teacher repeated falsehoods about vaccines, saying that they “do not prevent the virus from spreading” and “actually caused more variants.”

The teacher, who has not been identified by the district, also made false claims about the 2020 election and the family of Biden, including his son, Hunter Biden.

In a letter sent Monday to Anacapa Middle School families, Ventura Unified Supt. Roger Rice said the district did not condone the “non-instructionally-related discussion.”

“The teacher is still employed with the school district; however, they have not worked on the Anacapa Middle School site [sic] Wednesday, November 3,” Rice wrote.

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Silikula called the teacher’s rant, which was first reported by CBSLA, “an indoctrination.”

Thousands gathered outside L.A. City Hall to protest vaccination mandates Monday, when the city’s strict rules for indoor businesses went into effect.

“When she started going on about the vaccines ... it sunk deep to [Silikula’s son] because he was starting to ask, ‘Well, how can my parents not know that these vaccines did this,’” she told The Times in an interview Monday. “‘Why would [my parents] lie to me just to get the vaccination?’”

Silikula said her eighth-grade son was left with more than just questions, and that he seemed to take some of the claims to heart.

“It was like living with a deep QAnon-er all of a sudden,” she said, noting that her son began espousing anti-vaccine views and told his parents that Donald Trump was still president.

“His argument was teachers know everything,” Silikula said.

Many elementary schools around the U.S. are preparing to offer COVID-19 shots that educators see as key to keeping students learning in person.

Rice said an investigation of the incident began Oct. 18, after the video was shared with school and district administrators. The school went on fall break on Oct. 25. Students returned on Nov. 1 when the “process for taking appropriate action began,” Rice said.

The class was assigned to another teacher the following day.

Rice said the district followed disciplinary guidelines set by a collective bargaining agreement and that he could not discuss personnel matters. He wrote in an emailed statement to The Times that “the teacher has expressed deep remorse.”

Silikula said she is frustrated that school administrators have not done more to combat the conspiracy theories promoted by the teacher.

“How come nobody has said, ‘You know what, since your son believes teachers, how about we sit down with the principal, who’s the top teacher at the school, and she can say this wasn’t right. [The teacher is] not right about this,’” Silikula said.


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