School & District Management

Florida Commissioner Says ‘We Made Sure’ Teacher Who Hung Black Lives Matter Flag Was Fired

By Emily Bloch, The Florida Times-Union — May 18, 2021 2 min read
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks during a bill signing ceremony at St. John the Apostle School on May 11, 2021, in Hialeah, Fla.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Duval County teacher who hung a Black Lives Matter flag in her classroom says she heard she was fired through a YouTube video.

On Monday, Amy Donofrio’s legal team released a statement criticizing a recent guest speaking engagement from Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran at Hillsdale College, a private conservative school in Michigan. Corcoran used Donofrio as an example while speaking about critical race theory and curriculum oversight and announced that he had her fired.

In March, the school district announced Donofrio would be removed from her classroom while Duval Schools conducted an investigation for “several allegations.” The district declined to say what those allegations are, citing the active investigation. By April, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced it was suing Duval Schools on Donofrio’s behalf.

See Also

Image of directing flow around a cone.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty

“I’m getting sued right now in Duval County, which is in Jacksonville because there was an entire classroom memorialized to Black Lives Matter,” Corcoran said during his presentation. “We made sure she was terminated and now we’re being sued by every one of the liberal left groups who say it’s freedom of speech issue.”

Duval County Public Schools told the Times-Union on Monday morning that Donofrio is still an active employee within the school district.

“The employee is assigned to paid, non-teaching duties,” a spokeswoman said.

Public records show that Donofrio’s teaching certificate is still active and that she has faced no disciplinary actions from the state department of education as of this time.

A spokeswoman for the Southern Poverty Law Center said now that Corcoran’s statement about Donofrio is out in the open, they need answers.

“Ms. Donofrio was devastated to learn from Commissioner Corcoran’s public statements of the decision to terminate her employment even though Duval County Public Schools still refuses to provide Ms. Donofrio with any details of the ‘alleged misconduct’ for which she was told she was being investigated,” a statement from the SPLC said.

“That this decision has been made by those at the highest level of Florida’s Department of Education before the DCPS investigation is even completed shows the depth of the retaliation and deprivation of due process and free speech upon which Ms. Donofrio’s lawsuit against the District is based. According to Corcoran, a classroom that teaches Black Lives Matter or what Corcoran has labeled ‘crazy liberal stuff’ justifies censorship and the firing of teachers.”

The Times-Union has reached out to the Florida Department of Education and Corcoran’s office for comment.

In a separate statement, Donofrio described hearing Corcoran’s latest statement as heartbreaking.

“While I am heartbroken that the retaliation against me continues, I will not stop fighting for my rights so that other teachers do not have to endure the retaliation, harassment, and humiliation that I have as a result of co-creating a safe learning environment with and for Black students,” she said.

Copyright (c) 2021, The Florida Times-Union. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management With $102 Million in Grants, These Districts Plan to Train Principals With a Focus on Equity
The new grant program from the Wallace Foundation will help eight school districts work on building principals’ capacity to address equity.
11 min read
Image of puzzle pieces with one hundred dollar bill imagery
Getty
School & District Management Opinion Toxic Positivity Has No Place in Schools
Educators can’t do everything, but we can do some things, writes district leader Cherisse Campbell.
Cherisse Campbell
4 min read
A teacher sits on her desk thinking in an empty classroom.
Joy Velasco for Education Week
School & District Management The Already Dire Substitute Shortage Could Get 'Worse Before It Gets Better'
School districts are trying all sorts of tactics, including increasing pay and relaxing requirements, to get more subs in classrooms.
10 min read
Image of an empty classroom.
urfinguss/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion National School Boards Association Chooses to Be Part of the Problem
The NSBA chose to blur the distinction between permissible and suspect speech in suggesting the FBI should target unruly protesters.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty