JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board has paid $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against the school district by a former teacher who claims the district retaliated against her and violated her right to free speech.
Details of the settlement obtained by News4Jax show former Duval County Public Schools teacher Amy Donofrio will receive a $240,000 settlement payment and $60,000 to cover attorney fees.
Earlier this month the school board voted in favor of finding a settlement agreement in the civil case brought against the district by Donofrio and the Southern Poverty Law Center in April.
“Given the facts of the case, even though we know we haven’t done anything wrong, these are taxpayer dollars and I just can’t support paying those kinds of dollars over a three to five year period on a case we could settle tonight,” board member Warren Jones said prior to the vote.
A school district attorney said it could cost the district up to $2 million if the case went to trial, which wouldn’t have happened until 2023.
Donofrio, who co-founded the nationally recognized EVAC Movement in 2016, was reassigned to non-teaching duties one day after Lee High School administrators removed a Black Lives Matter flag from her classroom doorway when she refused to remove it on their instructions. According to DCPS, the flag was a breach of district policy, which bans teachers from advocating for social causes.
Donofrio did not receive a re-appointment to her previously assigned school, now named Riverside High School, this school year.
“Teaching is not just my career, it’s my life, my heart. Being unable to return to my classroom this fall devastates me beyond what I can fully articulate,” Donofrio said in a press release from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
As part of the agreement, the school board will not conclude the disciplinary investigation, which was incomplete at the time Donofrio’s employment with the school board expired without renewal.
News4Jax has requested details from Donofrio’s disciplinary investigation and will report the details when it becomes available.