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Teacher fired over rejecting transgender student's art project had history of bringing religion into class, documents show

Public school teacher Annella Krom was fired on charges of unprofessional and immoral conduct, according to the district document.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — A transgender student’s art project has turned into a classroom standoff.

The school district took action after a public school teacher, Annella Krom, refused to accept a transgender student's art project on their "transgender journey."

It marks the first time the Chandler Unified School District has fired a teacher, in part, for alleged discrimination against a transgender student.

Krom’s now-deleted teacher profile page said she was “very flexible” and that she encouraged conversation and respectful discussion. But the district’s statement of charges against her paints a very different picture.

In the document, the school district detailed a pattern of behavior of Krom putting her faith first.

Krom used to teach art at Arizona College Prep-Erie Campus. During the last two school years, the district gathered multiple reports of Krom sharing her faith and at times disparaging LGBTQ and nonreligious students for their lifestyles.

One transgender student reported that Krom told her it was a sin to be gay and to deviate from one's sex at birth. During that discussion, Krom did not use the student's preferred pronouns and said she believed LGBTQ people would go to hell, according to the statement of charges. 

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In a meeting with the principal and the district's assistant superintendent for human resources, Krom allegedly admitted she would sometimes call transgender students by their preferred names, but she refused to use their preferred pronouns. 

But the district's statement of charges shows Krom did not just bring up her religious views on LGBTQ issues during class. 

For example, Krom reportedly questioned one student's pro-choice belief, then offered the student a Bible and said the student "should rethink her morals."

On another occasion, when that same student said she was agnostic or atheist, Krom told her "she should rethink her life decisions and should go to church."

The next day, Krom reportedly changed the student's grade on an assignment from 80% to 60% and told the student "that the dynamics had changed."

The document also states that Krom handed out Bibles, encouraged students to go to church and discussed religion with students during class on several other occasions. The religious discussions were unrelated to classwork or assignments.

This year, an art project grabbed the attention of the school principal and district officials.  

A transgender student proposed focusing their art project on their transgender journey. The assignment had no restrictions on topics, but Krom rejected it. 

The student then went to the counselor, and the teacher was told to grade the paper as she would any other student's assignment. 

Just two days after receiving the direction, Krom would give the student a zero for their work on the project, according to the documents. 

A couple of days later, the teacher would email the principal and student telling them her conscience would be violated and she could not give it a grade higher than a zero. The statement of charges says in another email to the principal, Krom wrote "either this topic is the priority or the word of God is," later stating the situation is "a hill worth dying on."

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Krom would stand by her convictions in a meeting weeks later. She stated that she understood the restrictions on sharing beliefs and religious views in the classroom, but she did not agree with it. 

She allegedly stated she would break the rules if there was a faith conflict. 

Krom was given a chance to have a hearing on her case, but she declined and was fired a few weeks ago.

Efforts to reach Krom for this story were unsuccessful.

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