Burlington teacher who participated in Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol protest no longer will teach American history class | State and Regional News

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BURLINGTON — A teacher who participated in Jan. 6 protests at the U.S. Capitol over the 2020 presidential election will no longer teach American history at Burlington High School.

Jeff Taff, who is entering his eighth year at the high school, has been reassigned from the upper-level “Modern American History” course to a freshman-level course known as “Social Studies Foundations.” Taff also will continue teaching another course, “Modern World History,” when classes resume in the fall.


Burlington Area School District officials declined to say whether the classroom changes are related to Taff’s participation in the violent and deadly Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, to protest the election of Joe Biden over Donald Trump as president. According to Taff, his attorney and family, he never entered the Capitol or participated in any of the violence.

Trump and many of his supporters have maintained that there was widespread fraud leading to Biden becoming president, although no proof of such fraud has been found and U.S. courts have consistently sided against Trump since the election.

The district placed Taff on leave and ordered an investigation after learning that he had shared conspiracy theories about the election with students.

The investigator found that Taff did not violate any law or district policy, although the investigator criticized Taff’s judgment and professionalism on the job, and urged that the teacher undergo new training and scrutiny. Taff’s suspension ended earlier this month.

CLICK HERE TO READ Burlington teacher investigative report No. 1

CLICK HERE TO READ Burlington teacher investigative report No. 2

YouTube video

To this day, Taff refuses to say whether he accepts that Biden won the November 2020 election legitimately.

The $50,000-a-year history teacher announced his new classroom assignments in a video he uploaded to YouTube defending his approach to teaching about the Nazi Holocaust, which was one area in which the school district investigator raised criticism.

“Burlington Area School District has stripped me of teaching this class next year,” Taff said in the video posted on YouTube on June 23. It can be watched at youtu.be/N54O0DWod00.

Saying that he believes the Holocaust lesson is the district’s main reason for pulling him out of Modern American History, Taff cited one “confused” student who complained about the lesson. Taff also blamed critics who have used social media to air grievances about his teaching methods.

He added: “The social justice warriors, in trying to silence the teaching of truth, only help the choir to sing more loudly.”

Taff could not be reached for comment on this story.


Parents in the Burlington school district are voicing mixed feelings about the district’s decision to strip Taff of his American history teaching assignment.

A counter-protestor (copy)

Counter-protester Jon Phetteplace holds a sign that reads “Get a job losers” on one side and “I know science is hard” on the other while standing about 15 feet away from ReOpen Burlington demonstrators along Milwaukee Avenue near Downtown Burlington on May 2, 2020.

Jon Phetteplace, who has criticized Taff previously and is the parent of a BHS student, said he would prefer that Taff be removed from teaching entirely. Phetteplace, however, said he is glad that the district will no longer permit him to teach American history.

“I’m hoping that he basically is able to just be quiet,” Phetteplace said.

Phetteplace was named in the description of Taff’s YouTube video, uploaded to an account titled “Jeff Taff.” The video description states, “Jon Phetteplace goes by the alias ‘Conrad Breadwater’ on his social media accounts. If you have NO IDEA what has been going on for the past 6 months, here are a few articles about Jon Phetteplace’s and others false accusations,” followed by links to eight news articles.

Adrianne Melby


Another parent, Adrianne Melby, who has supported Taff, called the district’s move unfortunate, saying that she would happily allow Taff to teach American history to her kids.

“Jeff Taff is a man of integrity and common sense,” she said.

School district spokeswoman Julie Thomas confirmed Taff’s new teaching assignments. She also said the changes would not affect Taff’s salary of $50,000 a year.

Thomas would not say who will be teaching Modern American History in Taff’s place. Burlington High School Principal Eric Burling also declined to say why Taff’s teaching assignments are changing.

The district’s course catalog says the American history course delves into “people who have shaped United States history,” while Social Studies Foundations focuses on “fundamental foundations of social science.”

All Burlington High School sophomores are required to take Modern American History or an advanced-placement equivalent; Social Studies Foundations similarly is required of all freshmen.

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