Duval County teacher told to remove BLM flag from classroom

VIDEO: A Robert E. Lee High School teacher told News4Jax that she was instructed by administrators to remove a “Black Lives Matter” flag from her classroom.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Robert E. Lee High School teacher told News4Jax that she was instructed by administrators to remove a “Black Lives Matter” flag from her classroom on Tuesday.

Amy Donofrio, who co-founded the EVAC Movement, was interviewed by News4Jax as part of a story published Monday night, although she made clear that she was not speaking as a representative of Lee High School nor of Duval County Public Schools. The report focused on a viral video compilation of various clips recorded at Lee High School’s auditorium during public discussions on whether or not to rename the school.

One of the men featured in the viral clip, 1984 Lee High alumnus Joey Stevens, took to social media Monday night, attacking Donofrio by posting screenshots from her Facebook page and calling on his followers to contact the school about her.

“I just think that that goes against anything that should happen in school. Teachers should not be promoting organizations, whether it’s political or social injustice type organizations, and trying to influence their students,” Stevens said.

Hours after the post, Donofrio said principal Timothy Feagins told her to take the flag down by the end of the day. Feagins is seen in a video captured by Senior Class President Deyona Burton during the student protests earlier this year.

She said the school’s administrators told her that she has to take the banner down or the school custodians will do it.

Donofrio told News4Jax she would not take down the sign, but according to her, the sign was taken down by administrators shortly before 9 p.m.

Donofrio said she was also approached in November about the sign, but said the issue was dropped after she claimed that the flag did not violate any school or district policy.

This screenshot shows a Nov. 7, 2020 Facebook post by Amy Donofrio, a teacher at Robert E. Lee High School. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Duval County School Board policy states, “No employee shall use his/her position in any way to influence or attempt to influence students to support or oppose any candidate, party or issue. Such prohibition shall include, but not be limited to, any form of advocacy or opposition in a classroom or school setting or other school-related student-teacher relationship.”

Even more specific, a memo from December 15 bans employees from backing social movements or causes including flags, banners or signage on district property.

The memo came after a “Thin Blue Line” flag caused controversy at a Neptune Beach school, prompting leaders to ban it from the football field.

Donofrio argued that the Black Lives Matter Movement should not be viewed as a partisan one, but instead a show of support for human rights and anti-racism.

“It shouldn’t be ambiguous. Everybody should know where DCPS stands on racism,” Donofrio said. “You are either racist, you’re either for racism or you are anti-racist, to be neutral, is to be pro-racism.”

About the Author:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.