Education Week | By Emily Bloch, The Florida Times-Union | August 17, 2021
The Duval County School Board will pay a former high school teacher who displayed a Black Lives Matter flag over her classroom door $300,000 to settle a lawsuit from earlier this year.
Amy Donofrio, a former Riverside High School (then Lee High) teacher, said she was unfairly removed from her teaching position in March. She made national news, saying administrators told her to take down the Black Lives Matter flag that had been hanging over her doorway. After she refused, the district temporarily reassigned her to warehouse operations and said she was being investigated for “several matters.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center — who represented Donofrio — said the reassignment was an effort on the school district’s behalf to “retaliate” against the teacher and also violated her right to free speech.
This month, the Duval School Board voted to reach a settlement with Donofrio that would prevent the case from a years-long court process that could potentially cost millions of dollars.
“Though we know we haven’t done anything wrong, these are taxpayer dollars,” board member Warren Jones said at the time.
Separately, Donofrio’s teaching contract was not renewed with Duval Schools.
Now, new details from a public records request show that the school board agreed to pay a $300,000 settlement with $240,000 going to Donofrio and the remaining $60,000 to her attorneys.
As part of the agreement, Donofrio cannot apply for reemployment within Duval Schools. According to the document, the school board had not concluded its disciplinary investigation into Donofrio. Now that the case has been settled, the investigation will not be concluded. The Times-Union has requested initial findings from the investigation.
Donofrio said she is “devastated” to not be able to return to the classroom. She’s been teaching for over a decade and was well known for her work with the EVAC Movement — a group she co-founded that works primarily with at-risk students.