scorecardFlorida school district will pay $300,000 to teacher who was removed from classroom after displaying Black Lives Matter flag
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Florida school district will pay $300,000 to teacher who was removed from classroom after displaying Black Lives Matter flag

Katie Balevic   

Florida school district will pay $300,000 to teacher who was removed from classroom after displaying Black Lives Matter flag
LifeInternational2 min read
  • Amy Donofrio was reassigned after she hanged a Black Lives Matter flag over her class doorway.
  • Donofrio sued, claiming the school district retaliated against her and violated her free speech.
  • The school district settled for $300,000 while insisting "we haven't done anything wrong."

A Jacksonville, Florida school district settled a lawsuit with a high school teacher who claimed the district retaliated against her when she refused to remove a Black Lives Matter flag from her classroom doorway.

Duval County Public Schools will pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit with teacher Amy Donofrio, who was initially reassigned from teaching to warehouse duties at Riverside High School when the dispute began in March. The district told her she was being investigated for "several matters" but did not elaborate, USA Today reported.

Representing Donofrio, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the district's decision was an attempt at retaliation against Donofrio and a violation of her right to free speech. The suit sought to restore Donofrio's teaching position and ban policies that would prevent teachers from supporting Black Lives Matter and other "anti-racist curricula and policies," USA Today reported.

Instead, the school board voted to settle the case, citing concerns that it could go on for years, cost millions and even go up to the Supreme Court.

"Though we know we haven't done anything wrong, these are taxpayer dollars," board member Warren Jones said when the board was gathered in a private meeting to discuss the case.

Prior to the settlement, Florida State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran appeared to refer to Donofrio's case, although he did not refer to her by name and erroneously said she was terminated while she was still on the payroll, WJCT reported in May.

"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 terminated, and now we're being sued by every one of the liberal left groups for freedom of speech issues," Corcoran said in a speech regarding critical race theory.

Read more: The deputy who slammed a Black student to the ground during arrest at a Florida high school will not be charged, state attorney says

Several months ago, Riverside student Jayla Caldwell created a petition to have Donofrio reinstated while she was still on non-teaching duties.

"She has always advocated for racial equality and social justice since before I even entered high school. Ms. Donofrio was the light in the darkness for so many students," Caldwell wrote in the petition, which gained over 17,000 signatures.

Donofrio's teaching contract with Riverside High School, formerly known as Robert E. Lee High School, has not been renewed. As part of the settlement, she is not permitted to seek employment in the district again.

"Teaching is not just my career, it's my life, my heart," Donofrio said told USA Today in early August when the case was settled. "Being unable to return to my classroom this fall devastates me beyond what I can fully articulate."

Of the sum of Donofrio's settlement, $240,000 will go to Donofrio directly, and $60,000 will go to her attorneys, USA Today reported.

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