A white Florida principal says she was forced to resign from her role in the wake of an assembly that she approved for black students in which they were told that if their grades didn’t improve, they could end up ‘dead or in prison.’
Principal Donelle Evensen, 39, said in a resignation letter that she had been informed that the result of an investigation into the assembly would end badly for her, prompting her to quit, reports WESH.
The August assembly saw fourth and fifth-grade students at Bunnell Elementary School in central Florida pulled together, irrespective of their test scores, and told that black students were underperforming.
Parents said their children were warned those with lower grades have a higher chance of going to prison, getting shot or getting killed. But they were offered the chance to win food from McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A if they improved their scores.
It was led by ‘two black teachers,’ reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
‘Regardless whether she resigned or terminated, as long as she’s not at the school, I’m okay with it,’ Jacinda Arrington, the outraged parent of a fourth grader who was at the assembly, told Fox Orlando.
Bunnell Elementary School principal Donelle Evensen has only been in the job since July
‘Regardless whether she resigned or terminated, as long as she’s not at the school, I’m okay with it,’ outraged parent Jacinda Arrington told the media this week
Teacher Anthony Hines, shown here leading the actual assembly, has also issued his resignation
In her resignation letter, Evensen said that she was ‘broken-hearted’ by the reaction to the assembly.
‘I have not deserved the time of leave that I have been placed on, and I certainly do not deserve anything less than the position I currently have as principal,’ the disgraced educator read.
Evensen went on to say that the point of the assembly was to highlight under-achievement of groups including black students and those with disabilities.
The principal said that improving the trajectory for black students should be a priority, saying: ‘We must find ways to ensure all students are successful.
‘I can only hope that due to the unfavorable attention from this situation that a light will be shed and the most important conversation will be unavoidable as to the achievement levels of subgroups of students including African American students and Students With Disabilities,’ she added.
A separate letter that Evensen wrote to teachers at Bunnell saw her describe the controversial assembly as taking place in a ‘positive manner.’
‘Please know that I have tried my best to make known to district officials the positive manner in which the meeting with African American students took place and reminded them of all that we have already accomplished and the plans for what we would accomplish this school year,’ Evensen said in the staff letter.
The investigation was completed last Friday but the results will not be made public until the appeals process is complete, reports WESH. The results will be released on September 17.
All the black students were told ‘the problem’ is that they are underperforming in the typo-laden presentation
The Florida elementary school has 227 black children among its 1,168 students
Evensen pictured with her child on a GoFundMe page that was set up by her father in which he said his daughter had been made a ‘scapegoat’
Another outraged parent, Danielle Brown, told Fox Orlando this week that she worried about her daughter being singled out.
‘I just feel like you are kind of setting her up to be in a situation to become a victim of bullying,’ Brown said.
Evensen had only been in the role of principal since the end of 2023, she previously worked as the assistant principal for four years, winning an award for her efforts during the 2022-23 academic year. In 2020, she was voted as Teach of the Year for Flagler County.
She had worked in the district for 18 years. In 2022, she was paid nearly $90,000.
Her father, Don Evensen, has gone so far as to create a GoFundMe page for his daughter seeking $250,000 in donations. The fundraiser is titled ‘Unfairly Lost Her Job through Media Assault.’
In one section of the fundraising page, Don Evensen writes that his daughter has become a ‘sacrificial lamb on the altar of public and media attention.’ At the time of writing, the page has raised just $1,100.
Don Evensen said that the idea for the assembly was fashioned by black teachers at the school and was also signed off by her predecessor.
School district interim superintendent LaShakia Moore made it clear that the principal needed to improve her performance
Evensen, right, pictured with her former assistant principal Cari Hankerd
The school in Flagler county has 227 black and 696 whites among its 1,168 students and was allocated an overall C grade by the Florida Department of Education last year.
In addition to Evensen, a teacher who was present at the assembly, Anthony Hines has also resigned. Hines, like Evensen, had been on leave since the infamous meeting.
Hines title was exceptional student education facilitator. He worked in the district since 2019 and earned over $68,000 in 2022, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
‘I’m devastated. I’ve had a hard time. I’ve been teaching for 28 years and I’m just devastated,’ Hines told CNN in a brief interview.
‘We had a good time in the assembly. I kid you not, but I didn’t think it through and I take full responsibility for that. There are violations that were broken. I could have handled it better. I was not aware of what you can do and can’t do,’ he added.
‘[The students] are dear to my heart. And we just didn’t think it through,’ Hines also said.
School district interim superintendent LaShakia Moore said in a statement when the assembly was first reported by the media that she had already spoken to Evensen about it.
‘I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Bunnell Elementary Principal Donelle Evensen following an assembly of 4th and 5th-grade students,’ Moore wrote in a statement.
‘We have been able to talk about what led to this assembly and steps that were or were not taken before or after it.
‘In speaking with Mrs. Evensen, it is clear there was no malice intended in planning this student outreach.
‘However, sometimes, when you try to think ‘outside the box’, you forget why the box is there.’
The Sunshine State has been at the center of an education debate since Governor Ron DeSantis pushed through his ‘Stop Woke Act’ to limit discussion of race, and approved a curriculum claiming that slavery equipped slaves with skills they found useful.
County School Board Chair Cheryl Massaro said the latest row had nothing to do with the Republican presidential contender, but was the school’s mistake.
‘It wasn’t a great idea,’ she told the Washington Post.
‘It’s sad that it was segregated by race because that’s not fair, but that’s what happened.’
Parents said their children remained upset after attending Friday’s assembly.
‘So I’m going to die, I’m going to get shot, I’m going to go to jail if I don’t do right, so now he’s panicking,’ said Alexis Smith.
‘They’re still innocent, they still play with action figures, so now we have to over parent because of something that happened at their safe space at their school?’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12512649/White-Florida-elementary-school-principal-booted-assembly-filled-black-students-warned-poor-grades-end-dead-prison.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Florida principal Donelle Evensen resigns over black-student only assembly – telling them if they didn’t improve their grades they could wind up ‘dead or in prison’