Heather Yuen says she’ll be on high alert when classes start Wednesday at Monument Academy, an elementary and middle charter school in Lewis-Palmer School District 38.
Her seventh-grade daughter’s English class will be taught by a former reality television star, evangelical Christian and home-school advocate with perspectives on education that she can’t support.
“He may be a good teacher, but my family doesn’t follow the views and things he’s done in the past,” Yuen said. “I don’t like the fact we’re being taught by someone we don’t align with.”
Teacher Chris Jeub, with wife Wendy and their 16 children, appeared for one season in 2007 on a TLC network reality show, “Kids By the Dozen,” about supersized families.
The Monument family since has been featured nationally on WE-TV, CBS, Fox News and HuffPost Live.
Jeub taught in Minnesota and North Dakota before moving to Colorado to work for Focus on the Family. He then started a publishing company in Monument and has written books and blogged about his family’s experiences.
Jeub also runs debate and speech camps through his Training Minds Ministry and has been a substitute teacher at Monument Academy and other schools in D-38.
One of his older daughters accused her parents in a 2014 blog post of physically and emotionally abusing their children. Jeub denied the allegations, which never were proven.
“The allegations were made four years ago and have proven to be false,” Jeub said Tuesday. “I haven’t made public rebuttals because, frankly, I am more interested in reconciliation with my daughter. This is a personal family matter that has been difficult on all of us.”
After learning of his May hiring, about 10 Monument Academy parents complained to the school board.
Kerry Foreman gave board members a written statement at their June meeting, saying hiring Jeub was “too controversial.”
Lorri Halenkamp said she opposed Jeub’s hiring because of what had been posted online about his past.
But Lori Strahan told the board she supported his hiring, based on her child’s positive experiences with him as a substitute teacher last year. She said her child thought Jeub was “an excellent teacher.”
The school, which has 1,020 students in kindergarten through eighth grades, launched an investigation over the summer, Executive Director Don Griffin said Monday.
“Some parents initially objected to the fact that he was an evangelical Christian with strong religious beliefs, and old internet articles that spoke about possible abuse with his children,” Griffin said.
The investigation, done with the school’s legal counsel, included background checks and interviews with Jeub children, some of whom attend Monument Academy and some of whom have graduated.
“All of them denounce what was on the internet and claimed abuse never happened,” Griffin said.
“They claimed an older sibling had mental health issues, was destitute and trying to write a book and made some accusations.”
He said there was “never an investigation by any authority in any state ... no home visits made, no welfare check by law enforcement or social services.”
“Our investigation showed us that none of the allegations were true. It appears, as with many articles on the internet, a lot of things were written with no proof.”
But Griffin said, “Some parents took the avenue, ‘If it’s on the internet, it must be true.’
“This is a case where we’ve seen a person’s character and personality attacked on social media, many times anonymously, many times with malicious intent," Griffin said. "The people that were behind this always made it very clear that it was about religion, and they wanted him fired. Period. It was a personal vendetta.”
Yuen said parents are concerned not only by Jeub’s background, but also by what Jeub has written on his blog.
She cited a 2013 blog post titled “Educating Girls,” in which Jeub referred to other articles about how educating girls leads to lower birth rates and how a shrinking population would be devastating.
“This begs the question: What are they teaching the girls?” Jeub asked. He argued that schools don’t educate but “indoctrinate” and “proselytize young minds to become good workers,” not “thinkers, creators, leaders.”
“He seemed to be saying it’s dangerous to educate our young girls. They’ll go into the workforce and not make babies, and our population will go extinct,” Yuen said. “I don’t feel someone like that should be teaching the future generations.”
Jeub said people misinterpreted what he wrote and quoted it out of context. He said he has publicly opposed inequity in education.
“I have never advocated for an unequal education of boys and girls,” he said, and he blogged against a pastor who “believed such nonsense.”
Yuen and other parents said they also are worried that Jeub might try to impart his fundamental Christian views on students, given that he’s the school’s speech and debate coach and operates a Christian organization that teaches kids speech and debate skills.
Griffin said Monument Academy is a public school.
“Obviously, the regulations of the separation of church and state and all that goes with that hold true,” he said.
“We live in northern El Paso County, and I do have a lot of staff members who are people of faith — a wide variety of faith. But we do not encourage, tolerate or allow any kind of religious teaching or tenets.”
Said Jeub: “We are a charter school, not a Christian school, and I am fully aware how to teach in this environment.”
Jeub has been a substitute teacher at several high schools and a middle school in D-38 besides Monument Academy, said district spokeswoman Julie Stephen.
She said she could not discuss personnel issues, but he couldn’t have continued as a substitute teacher if there had been problems.
Yuen said she’ll be watching.
“There are a lot of things going on that are kind of shady,” she said. “I’m afraid these kind of influences will be brought into the classroom, and at this age, children are very (impressionable).”
Griffin said he has no doubt Jeub will excel in his job.
Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.