The Florida Times-Union reports that Donofrio, who is known for her advocacy and outreach work with Black students, is under investigation by the school district for the incident. She made national news this past week after school administrators insisted she take the Black Lives Matter flag outside of her classroom down, to which she refused. The flag had been hanging outside the classroom for months, but was only raised as a potential issue recently.
She believes that the pressure to take the flag down is only happening because the local community has recently held meetings regarding a potential name change to the school, since slave owner Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general who opposed racial equality. Donofrio had live-streamed some of the public’s comments about the name change, with clips going viral on Twitter. One such clip featured alumnus Joey Stevens proclaiming that Jesus supported slavery.
The same evening the school demanded she take down the flag, it was removed. She replaced the flag with a sign that read, “Lee admin took down the Black Lives Matter sign last night.” It was initially believed she was suspended, but News4jax reports that Donofrio has been “administratively reassigned to paid, non-teaching duties” as of Thursday. Students planned a demonstration regarding the incident, but school staff quickly shut it down.
Duval School policy says that employees are not allowed to influence students politically, or encourage them to engage in any form of advocacy. Donofrio has argued that Black Lives Matter is not a political statement, but a stance against racism. Elsewhere in Jacksonville, a memo was distributed after Fletcher High School displayed a “Thin Blue Line” flag before games.
“The distrct has opened a human resources matter to review allegations of potential misconduct under school board policy and the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida,” the district said in a statement. “The presumption of innocence applies; however, Ms. Donofrio has been removed from school and classroom duties while the matter is reviewed.”