The Boise School Board took the unusual step Thursday of publicly chastising one of its board members for using threatening, vulgar language for a social media post he authored.
Boise High School graduate and first-year trustee Shiva Rajbhandari retweeted an article Tuesday about Gov. Brad Little signing legislation banning gender-affirming mentoring of transgender minors.
The tweet read: “F*** you @GovernorLittle. I pray that you will live long lives so you can witness the pain you brought to the children and families of Idaho today. But if you die, I’ll piss on your grave.”
The tweet sparked a firestorm of polarized reactions online, generating hundreds of retweets, replies and comments ranging from gratitude to condemnation.
And it prompted Boise School Board President Dave Wagers to publicly apologize to the governor, blaming Rajbhandari’s comments as damaging and inconsistent with the board’s values.
Dave Wagers, President of the Boise School Board
“One board member, Shiva Rajbhandari, has deviated in his individual capacity from the values of respect, dignity and teamwork,” Wagers wrote in a public statement. “We apologize on behalf of the District to the Governor for the language and want everyone to know that Mr Rajbhandari’s choice of words in no way reflects the leadership of the District other than himself.”
In an interview with EdNews on Friday, Rajbhandari apologized for his “distracting” language to the Boise School District’s trustees, staff, well-wishers and constituents, to his colleagues and to the transgender and non-binary community.
“I reacted before I thought and I didn’t consult my mentors and I acted like a teenager, which I am,” Rajbhandari said. “And now my language is what everyone’s talking about, and not the real issue — and that’s that our lawmakers and our governor have intervened in the health care of Idahoans and violated basic human rights and dignity in that law and in so many others.” .”
On Wednesday, Rajbhandari tweeted this post in response to reactions to an earlier, mundane tweet aimed at Governor Brad Little.
Rajbhandari said his voice, unlike that of his peers, reaches a much wider audience – which he described as “a blessing and a curse”.
“We young people may use language that distracts from the ‘adult conversation,’ but our passion is clear.”
Shiva Rajbhandari, student at Boise High School and Trustee of the Boise School Board
Rajbhandari also joined and “raised” a student protest against gun violence held at Boise High School on Wednesday.
These recent examples of public activism — the attention-grabbing tweet and the protest — are somewhat unusual behavior for school leaders. As impartial, unpaid elected officials, trustees tend to be less outspoken in their personal lives and more concerned about their image and public perception.
And Rajbhandari’s activism is notable given the recent expulsion of two Tennessee lawmakers who took part in a protest against gun violence – itself a highly unusual move.
The protests at Tennessee and Boise High (and others across the country) came after six people were killed in a shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School on March 27.
But Rajbhandari said fears of being removed as trustee would not stop him from engaging in politics. Also, he said, voters knew what he was like when they voted for him.
“I’ve been an activist, I’ve spoken out on a variety of social justice and environmental issues here in our state,” Rajbhandari said. “And I don’t think I was given that trust without a doubt that I would continue in that role.”
About Carly Flandro
Reporter Carly Flandro works at EdNews’ East Idaho office. A former high school English teacher, she writes about teaching, learning, diversity and equity. You can follow Flandro on Twitter @idahoedcarly and send her news tips to [email protected]
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