Florida, school assembly

Florida Educator and Principal On Administrative Leave After Calling Assembly To Chastise Black Students

A principal and teacher at a Flagler County, Florida, elementary school have been placed on administrative leave after calling an assembly for only fourth and fifth-grade Black students in which they were chastised as a collective for underperforming on standardized assessments.

According to CNN, the assembly was held at Bunnell Elementary School, during which a PowerPoint presentation outlined possible improvements in academic achievement, specifically highlighting Black students. “AA is African American, and that is one subgroup the FDOE requires annual reporting on from all Florida schools. The PowerPoint, created by one of the presenters, shows the data results,” said Flagler County School Board Chair Cheryl Massaro.

The principal has been identified as Donelle Evensen, who claims the assembly was held with “no malice.”

“While the desire to help this particular subgroup of students is to be commended, how this was done does not meet the expectations we desire among Flagler Schools,” said Lashakia Moore, Flagler Schools interim superintendent. “We want our parents and guardians to actively participate in their children’s educational successes. Our parents were not properly engaged without informing them of this assembly or the plans to raise these scores.” With outrage pouring in from the community and the students’ families, Moore has made it her duty to face the backlash head-on.

“We have either spoken face-to-face or on the phone,” she said, adding that parents were “upset, concerned as to how and why it happened, but the majority of families that I spoke with their end conversation was ‘what do we do now, how do we work together as a community which is inclusive of our families, how do we work together in order to ensure that we are never in this place again?’”

The two school staffers have been on leave since Aug. 18. At this time, it is unclear if or when they’ll be allowed to return.