Educators lose teaching certificates over student sex abuse, aggravated assault

A previous version of this story inaccurately stated that Brent Schindler’s teaching certification was suspended indefinitely. The story was updated Sept. 27 at 3:30 p.m. to reflect that while the certification was suspended, Schindler met all the conditions for reinstatement before the Professional Standards Commission meeting, and immediately regained his certification. He is currently in good standing. Our original story was based on information provided by the State Department of Education, as is the correction. 

Idaho’s Professional Standards Commission (PSC) — the 18-member board charged with approving, suspending and revoking teaching licenses in Idaho — took action against six people Thursday and Friday for violating the state’s code of ethics for public educators.

For violations ranging from sex abuse to contract breaches, three educators lost their teaching certificates and two received letters of reprimand.

EdNews obtained public documents related to these violations. Below are summaries of each complaint and the PSC’s disciplinary decision.

Sarai McCormick — West Bonner County School District 

Sarai McCormick was convicted in February of sexually abusing a minor under 16.

The charges came after McCormick — then a teacher at Priest River Lamanna High School — showed up at a Halloween party in October where current and former students were present. According to reporting from the Bonner County Daily Bee, McCormick had brought alcohol to the party, and was visibly intoxicated when she arrived.

McCormick, then 37, was later caught in the backseat of her car with a 15-year-old student who was also attending the party. The teacher drove away from the location with the student, assaulted them, and then dropped them off near the residence but did not return to the party.

According to the Daily Bee, the victim spent the night at the residence, and appeared upset the following morning. The victim asked other witnesses to delete any photos or evidence from the party. Rumors later swirled around the North Idaho high school, leading to a police investigation.

McCormick was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the assault.

The PSC took action Thursday to revoke McCormick’s teaching certificate — an automatic penalty for anyone found guilty of a felony child sex abuse charge.

Gwendalyn Buthman — Idaho Virtual Academy

In June 2022, Gwendalyn Buthman was convicted of felony injury to a child with infliction of great bodily injury, and misdemeanor injury to a child.

The charges came after Buthman and her husband were accused of abusing their adopted daughter.

According to a report from the Idaho Press, the Kuna couple isolated their daughter from her siblings, forced her to sleep without bedding and fed her exclusively vegetable protein powder. During trial, the victim testified that she had been malnourished, locked in a bathroom and forced to stand outside in the cold with nothing but a diaper on. In 2017, the victim, then 5 years old, went into cardiac arrest due to the abuse.

The Buthmans’ abuse occurred for three years — the victim was 3 to 6 years old.

The PSC voted to permanently revoke Buthman’s teaching certificate — an automatic penalty for anyone found guilty of felony injury to a child.

Robert Kiser — Middleton School District

Robert Kiser pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge in an Oregon court.

The charge came after Kiser, a teacher and football coach in the Middleton district, arrived to a football camp at Eastern Oregon University under the influence of “some substance,” according to the complaint. He was slurring his words and having difficulty walking.

He put one player in a wrist lock, struck at least one student in the groin and referred to players by a number of vulgarities, including a derogatory, anti-gay slur.

The PSC voted Friday to issue Kiser a letter of reprimand. He must take an approved ethics course and boundaries course within one year.

Daniel Durham — Mountain Home School District

Daniel Durham was convicted of felony aggravated assault in November 2022.

He was originally arrested on a charge of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 for a crime that occurred between October and December of 2018.

The PSC permanently revoked Durham’s teaching certificate Thursday — an automatic penalty for anyone found guilty of felony aggravated assault.

Brent Schindler — Teton County School District

The PSC took action Thursday against Brent Schindler for lying on two teaching certificate applications and one alternative authorization application. However, Schindler fulfilled the conditions of his suspension prior to the meeting, and immediately regained his certification.

Schindler previously practiced law in Michigan and California. His license to practice in Michigan was revoked in 2006, after professional misconduct resulted in disciplinary action. In 2007, he was disbarred in California due to the incident in Michigan.

When Schindler applied for a teaching certificate in Idaho in 2018, he wrote that he had surrendered his law certificate when he closed his practice. He did not answer whether disciplinary action had ever been taken against a professional license or certificate, or whether he had surrendered a license or certificate to avoid disciplinary action.

On his 2020 teaching certificate application, Schindler marked ‘No’ to both questions. On his 2022 application for emergency authorization, Schindler marked ‘No’ again, and wrote that his previous licenses lapsed.

On all three applications, Schindler said the information he submitted was true to the best of his knowledge, and acknowledged that it is a violation of the code of ethics to submit false information on an application.

The PSC indefinitely suspended Schindler’s certificates Thursday. However, Schindler met all the conditions for reinstating his certification before the PSC met, including taking an ethics course, a course on integrity and dishonesty, and submitting to the PSC a letter explaining the disciplinary actions brought against him in Michigan and California, as well as a copy of each disciplinary order.

Because of this, Schindler’s certification was immediately reinstated following the suspension, according to the State Department of Education.

James Maloney — Caldwell School District

James Maloney resigned from the Caldwell district just seven days after signing his contract. Exiting a contract is a punishable offense according to Idaho’s code of ethics for educators.

The PSC voted Thursday to issue Maloney a letter of reprimand.

Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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