JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During a speech at a private conservative college last week, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran referenced Amy Donofrio, a Jacksonville teacher who generated controversy after she was removed from her classroom in March.
Addressing the crowd at Hillsdale College in Michigan, Corcoran said that not only was Donofrio removed from her classroom but she was also fired.
But the Duval County School District said Donofrio was not fired. Donofrio, who co-founded the nationally recognized EVAC Movement in 2016, was reassigned to paid, non-teaching duties while the district investigates what it described as “several matters” related to allegations of misconduct. Donofrio claims she was taken out of her classroom to stop her from helping her students achieve and for hanging a Black Lives Matter flag over the door of her classroom to signal to students it was a safe space for Black students.
Donofrio is still a paid employee but she has not been able to return to the classroom.
A YouTube video of Corcoran’s speech sparked questions about a Jacksonville teacher’s job with the Duval County School District. During a question-and-answer session about what students are taught in the classroom, Corcoran recalled a teacher that was in a legal battle over a Black Lives Matters flag. The same scenario as teacher Amy Donofrio and Duval schools.
“I have censured or fired numerous teachers for doing that. I’m getting sued right now in Duval County, which is Jacksonville because it was an entire classroom memorialized to Black Lives Matter. We made sure she was being terminated and now we are being sued by every one of the liberal left groups for freedom of speech issues,” Corcoran said.
Donofrio and her attorney told News4Jax they were stunned to hear the commissioner said she was fired.
“Devastated, just devastated. Not just for what it means to me but I think about all of the educators watching, watching all over the state that stand with their students,” Donofrio said.
Donofrio’s lawyer said there is a letter saying that DCPS has not terminated Donofrio.
“They did not comment any further as to the commissioner’s comments so we are left in a little bit of a state of confusion,” said attorney Cathleen Scott.
Scott said they are now asking Duval schools to give Donofrio her job back.
Donofrio’s attorneys filed a civil case against DCPS, claiming the district retaliated against Donofrio and violated her right to free speech.
Donofrio hopes children are not discouraged by the commissioner’s comment.
“Teachers should be empowered to stand with their kids and for what’s right. In fact, I thought that was our responsibility to do,” Donofrio said.
Until then, Donofrio continues to wait on answers about her future as a teacher. Meanwhile, Scott will add violations of due process to Donofrio’s complaint.
News4Jax also emailed Corcoran’s office about his comments.