Florida Elementary School Principal and Teacher Placed on Leave After Singling Out Black Students

The principal and a teacher at Bunnell Elementary School in Florida have been placed on paid administrative leave after staff organized assemblies specifically for Black fourth- and fifth-graders to address low test scores. On Friday, the students were taken away from their regular activities to attend meetings focused on improving standardized test scores. Regardless of whether the students had failing or passing grades, they were chosen to attend based on their race.

During the sessions, the students were shown a PowerPoint presentation titled “AA Presentation,” which highlighted the underperformance of Black students on standardized assessments over the past three years. The presentation indicated that only 32% of Black students scored at Level 3 or above for math and language arts, whereas the testing guidelines suggest that the number should be 41%.

Interim Flagler Superintendent LaShakia Moore apologized for the incident, stating that there was no intention of malice and that the approach taken did not align with the values of the school district, school board, or the community. Moore emphasized that students should never be separated based on race.

As a result, Bunnell Elementary Principal Donelle Evensen and faculty member Anthony Hines, who were both involved in the effort, have been placed on leave pending an investigation. Evensen, who had recently been appointed as principal of the school, had previously served as an assistant principal for four years. Hines, an exceptional student education facilitator, was hired in August 2019.

Flagler County School Board Chair Cheryl Massaro issued an apology, stating that the district does not support the actions that took place at the school. She expressed deep regret to the affected parents and students and acknowledged that the incident should not have happened. Moore urged the community to continue working together to improve the academic performance of all students.

Moore also announced that a community forum will be held next Tuesday, which will involve the participation of the NAACP, the African American Mentoring program, and other local organizations committed to collaborating with Flagler County Schools to support students. Once the district completes its investigation, a report will be presented to a committee for recommendations on appropriate disciplinary actions. Moore intends to prioritize training and engaging with school staff to prevent similar incidents in the future. Furthermore, she has personally reached out to the families whose children were called into the assemblies and has ensured that their concerns are addressed.