JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public Schools has administratively reassigned Amy Donofrio, the Lee High School teacher who garnered attention this week after she refused to take down a “Black Lives Matter” flag that was hanging outside her classroom.
The district confirmed Donofrio was reassigned to paid, non-teaching duties Thursday. The district said it has also opened a human resources investigation to review “allegations of potential misconduct” under school board policy.
The allegations against Donofrio were not immediately clear.
“The presumption of innocence applies; however, Ms. Donofrio has been removed from school and classroom duties while the matter is reviewed,” DCPS told News4Jax in a statement.
Donofrio, who co-founded the EVAC Movement, said principal Timothy Feagins told her to take the flag down this week after an opponent of the potential name change at Lee High took to social media to call for its removal.
She said the school’s administrators told her that she had to take the banner down or the school custodians would do it. Donofrio told News4Jax she would not take down the sign, but according to her, the sign was taken down by administrators.
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.
The removal of the flag caused students at the school to attempt a demonstration on Wednesday, but the protest was squashed by school administrators.
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.”
A memo from December 15 bans employees from backing social movements or causes including flags, banners or signage on district property.
After word of her removal from the classroom spread Wednesday night, current and former students took to social media to show support for Donofrio.
“I honestly have no words for that,” Lee High student and activist Mykyla Hooper wrote on Instagram. “Just know that won’t dim Mrs. Donofrio’s light. We love you Mrs. Donofrio.”
The controversy comes as DCPS holds the final meeting series of public meetings to discuss the potential renaming of nine schools. Six of the schools under consideration for renaming honor Confederate Civil War leaders and the other three schools are named after leaders who perpetrated violence against Native Americans.