Florida teacher on leave for BLM flag learns she was fired in YouTube video
Contrary to the education commissioner's claims, school officials told the local press Amy Donofrio is still an active employee.
A Florida teacher who was suspended after refusing to remove a Black Lives Matter flag from outside her classroom at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville said she learned she had been fired from a YouTube video.
Amy Donofrio watched a video of Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaking at Hillsdale College, a private conservative school in Michigan. Corcoran used Donofrio as an example of curriculum oversight and critical race theory and announced he had her fired.
“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 told the conservative audience. “We made sure she was terminated, and now we’re being sued by every one of the liberal left groups who say it’s a freedom of speech issue.”
But contrary to Corcoran’s claims, Duval County Public Schools told The Jacksonville Times-Union Donofrio is still an active employee within the school district.
“The employee is assigned to paid, non-teaching duties,” a spokeswoman said.
Donofrio had previously been suspended for “several allegations” in March but failed to disclose what those allegations were. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the school district for violating her First Amendment rights.
SPLC officials say in the wake of Corcoran’s contentions, additional issues have been raised.
“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,” they said in a statement. “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.”
Donofrio first put the BLM flag outside of her classroom after Reginald Boston was killed by Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers in an undercover operation in 2020. Boston was a former member of the Evac Movement, which helped change the language around Jacksonville children from “at-risk” to “at hope” — a subject that is important to the language arts teacher. She gave a Ted Talk on it in 2017.
The school district claimed Donofrio violated a policy of “political speech” by hanging the flag. However, she contends Black Lives Matter is not a political issue.
“And here’s the thing: It was our flag. Me and my students. And I knew what it meant to them. They’re processing these racially tumultuous times, and to remove a symbol of their humanity and safety, for a non-policy-based reason, right after our school had a meeting to debate whether or not the leader of the Confederacy appropriately represented them … no. That’s wrong,” Donofrio told Black Enterprise.
“Why didn’t I remove it? Because we in education constantly lecture kids to do the right thing,” she said, “even when it may cost them, and we have an obligation to walk that out ourselves.”