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Utah teacher on leave for posting video about 'inappropriate' conversations with students

Posted at 4:14 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 00:09:48-04

LEHI, Utah — A Utah teacher has been placed on administrative leave because of a "concerning" video she posted on social media, a school official said.

Jenna Hall, a teacher at Renaissance Academy, was placed on leave for a video she posted on TikTok.

In the video, Hall said her fourth-grade students from last year visit her classroom often after school. A lot of these students, she said, "are queer, because I am queer and so they figured it out." She added that she has "become their safe place."

Hall's TikTok account was set to private as of Monday. However, the Twitter account called "Libs of TikTok" posted the video in question on Friday.

In the video, Hall also said the students sometimes play "Guess Who" but in a non-conventional way — such as calling a character a "lesbian baddie" or saying a character "just looks gay."

"I'm so happy that [these kids] are figuring out who they are and that they're happy with who they are and that they've found a safe place," she also said in the video.

READ: Sen. Mike Lee wants TV warnings about LGBTQ+ characters, content

"I could never imagine being in fifth grade saying these things out loud," she continued. "I grew up super religious where nothing was okay, and so seeing this happen, I'm like, [screaming] 'Aah!' but I'm also like, 'Yay!'"

Mark Ursic, the school's executive director, confirmed to FOX 13 News that Hall was placed on administrative leave while they investigated a video posted on social media that described "inappropriate conversations with former students." He said they learned about the "concerning video" on Friday, which was the same day the video went viral on Twitter.

"Our teachers are expected to comport themselves with the highest degree of professionalism," the statement continued. "Behavior that is unprofessional, in violation of state code, or that violates the trust placed in us by the families of Renaissance Academy will not be tolerated."

In an interview with FOX 13 News, Ursic said the school administration is not claiming that Hall did anything wrong, but the investigation is happening to determine whether she went against the expectations of establishing and maintaining boundaries between teachers and students.

He also said they were not notified about the video by parents of students, but by people with no known connection to the school.

"This teacher is beloved by many of her students and many of [their] families," Ursic said.

He said they did receive feedback from some parents, but only after administrators notified students' families about the investigation and Hall being placed on leave.

Ursic added that the investigation has nothing to do with the quality of her instruction. He also said her being "queer" — as she put it — was not a factor, but again, just the judgment and professionalism of the alleged conversations with students and the video itself.