Duval Teacher ‘Terminated,’ Ed Commissioner Says In Speech, But She’s Not Fired

May 17, 2021

Robert E. Lee High School teacher Amy Donofrio — removed from her classroom in March after she refused to take down a Black Lives Matter flag from outside her classroom — said she believed she’d been ultimately fired based on a speech last week by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. 

Her lawyers said Donofrio walked out of the warehouse where she has been assigned to paid, non-teaching duties when she saw the speech in a YouTube video posted by Hillsdale College in Michigan, where Corcoran gave the address. 

Corcoran said that “we made sure she was terminated” as part of his effort to “police” teachers and keep them from “indoctrinating” students with critical race theory. 

But Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said Corcoran used the word “terminated” to refer to the district’s decision to reassign Donofrio from classroom duties, which he agreed with in his capacity as education commissioner. 

“Obviously, The Commissioner possesses significant authority to ensure every child has access to a world-class education free from indoctrination,” Etters said.

Duval County Public Schools spokeswoman Laureen Ricks said Donofrio “remains in a paid, non-teaching position.” 

The district has previously declined to specify exactly why it is investigating Donofrio, but has referred WJCT News to district policies restricting employees’ political speech. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center is representing Donofrio in a lawsuit against DCPS for allegedly violating her free speech rights when it removed her from the classroom. In a school with a student body that is 70% Black, Donofrio said she hung the Black Lives Matter flag to show her students she stood with them in the fight for racial justice. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles