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As students walk out, Boise district rejects ‘rumors’ for Timberline teacher’s suspension

Hundreds of Timberline High School students walked out of class Thursday to protest the ongoing suspension of a teacher, holding signs and chanting, “Bring back Boulton.”

Timberline teacher Laura Boulton was placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 7, Boise School District spokesperson Dan Hollar told the Idaho Statesman by email Monday.

Parents and students have said they are seeking answers regarding her suspension, and some students held a walkout last Friday as well. The Boise School District has declined to explain the action, citing an exemption in Idaho’s Public Records Act that allows agencies to withhold personnel information.

The district did, however, distribute a letter rejecting a narrative that has been pushed on social media — that the teacher was suspended over reporting assault, harassment or abuse after something was disclosed to her by a student.

One of the student’s signs at Thursday’s protest read, “Silencing Boulton is silencing victims,” an apparent reference to what’s circulating online.

“The rumors and speculation circulating ... about why Ms. Boulton is on administrative leave are not correct,” the Boise School District letter read. “Ms. Boulton was not placed on administrative leave for reporting acts of sexual assault and/or harassment, or any other report from Ms. Boulton regarding harassment, bullying or abuse. She was also not placed on leave for any behaviors that occurred prior to 2023.”

Timberline High School students stand on the sidewalk across the street from their school Thursday after staging a walkout to protest teacher Laura Boulton’s suspension.
Timberline High School students stand on the sidewalk across the street from their school Thursday after staging a walkout to protest teacher Laura Boulton’s suspension.

A purported evaluation of Boulton also began circulating on social media: “Mrs. Boulton does not follow appropriate professional boundaries between teacher/student & teacher/teacher-shared student confidential information, telling students to request teacher changes, involving herself in personnel issues.”

The district’s letter addressed this as well. It stated that what was posted online “is not Ms. Boulton’s actual evaluation that is in her personnel file, nor was it ever placed in her personnel file.”

Boulton attended the protest and stood on the sidewalk across the street from the students. She spoke to them through a megaphone. She said she could not address her suspension, but spoke about Timberline High School Principal Diana Molino.

Laura Boulton holds her hands in the shape of a heart and tells a crowd of several hundred students lining the sidewalk across from Timberline High School “I love you” during the walkout.
Laura Boulton holds her hands in the shape of a heart and tells a crowd of several hundred students lining the sidewalk across from Timberline High School “I love you” during the walkout.

“I have done nothing but love that woman,” Boulton said. “And I am sorry she doesn’t love me back. And that’s OK. I’m OK with that. It’s not her fault. It’s this school district’s fault. It’s this country’s fault.”

The teacher also asked the protesting students to write Molino an apology for leaving class.

Molino watched the protest from the schoolyard but declined to field questions when approached by the Idaho Statesman.

One protester, Timberline senior Stephanie Liu, told the Statesman that she feels safer with Boulton than with almost anyone else in her life.

“She’s just very supportive,” Liu said. “She’s someone you always feel safe with. She’s just an all-around amazing, inspiring person. She’s honestly my hero.”