District investigates Parowan teacher’s tweet seemingly calling for death of Republican senators

Parowan High School, Parowan, Utah, Aug. 28, 2019 | Photo from Parowan High School Facebook page, St. George News / Cedar City News

PAROWAN — A Parowan High School teacher’s tweet is under investigation by the Iron County School District for apparently wishing death on Republican senators.

The tweet, dated Feb. 13, 2021, and sent out from the account of Parowan High School humanities teacher Brian Townsend said the following:

I only hope that the next time a president incites a riot at the Capitol, more Republican senators are killed.

United States senators voted Feb. 13 to acquit former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building. Though not enough to convict, the 57-43 vote was widely called the most bipartisan ever, with seven Republican senators voting to convict the former president, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

Screenshot of a tweet by Parowan High School teacher Brian Townsend, location not specified, screenshot taken Feb. 25, 2021 | Image courtesy of Sunny Carter, Iron County Schools Parents Group, St. George News

Townsend’s tweet was posted Wednesday on the Iron County Schools Parents Group Facebook page by Lisa Sunny Carter, who told Cedar City News that Townsend is her daughter’s teacher.

Carter said she became aware of the tweet after her daughter and some of her friends began discussing it.

“My daughter brought it to my attention,” Carter said, adding that she is really upset about all of it.

“I’m shaking,” she said. “Not only did he post something inappropriate, but his students can see.”

After the tweet surfaced the Iron County School District released the following statement Wednesday:

We’ve only recently become aware of these tweets. In light of the impact on the educational process and on Iron County School District, we are reviewing with legal counsel our appropriate response and we are investigating the matter. His statements do not represent a statement or the opinions of the Iron County School District. In fact, the school district ensures that where it may be a matter of free speech we are very serious about protecting free speech. However, all matters that affect the educational system adversely are not protected and above all we want to make sure that the educational process and the education for our students is protected.

On Thursday, the district confirmed with Cedar City News that they are consulting with their legal counsel and will be making a decision regarding any potential disciplinary action.

While Carter said she is all in favor of freedom of speech, she feels as if his tweet crossed a line, primarily because he has allowed his students access to his social media account.

“When you’re a teacher, I feel like you’re teaching all the time,” Carter said, adding that his tweet went way too far.

Carter said Townsend has been “in trouble” before and referenced an incident from February 2020 in which a woman was arrested for allegedly punching a Parowan teacher in the chest.

According to a Fox 13 news report, the woman, Nikell Judd, was arrested after she became angry at the way the teacher was treating her daughter and “just snapped.”

While neither the report nor the probable cause statement filed in support of Judd’s arrest specifically mention Townsend, Cedar City News was able to confirm with Judd via Facebook Messenger that it was indeed him.

“Yes, this is the teacher that I had altercations with last year,” Judd said in the message.

The probable cause statement said the incident took place during school hours and Townsend was “acting in the scope of his profession” at the time. Judd filed a guilty plea in abeyance, and the charges against her were dismissed July 15, 2020.

Cedar City News attempted to reach Townsend via email, but there has been no response as of the publication of this report.

This is a developing story.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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