‘I Never Was Looking At It from a Racial Aspect’: Principal of a Florida Elementary School That Came Under Fire After Segerated Assembly About Low Test Scores Has Resigned

The principal of a Florida elementary school where a group of Black students were pulled out of class for low test scores has resigned. 

Bunnell Elementary Principal Donelle Evensen stepped down from her role on Thursday, Fox 35 Orlando reported. Evenson and a teacher who was also involved were previously suspended and placed on paid leave amid an investigation into the assembly that prompted significant backlash from parents.

Florida Elementary School Principal Resigns After Backlash From Impromptu Assembly
Bunnell Elementary School Principal Donelle Evensen resigned this week. It comes after an assembly where Black students said they were singled out from their peers and had to view a presentation due to low test scores. (News4JAX/ Youtube screenshot)

The incident happened in late August. Students told their parents that they felt singled out after they were reportedly pulled out of class and sent to the cafeteria to view a presentation. The parents were not informed about the impromptu assembly, and the students were instructed to attend regardless of their test scores. 

One of the slides stated: “[African-Americans] have underperformed on standardized assessment for the last past three years… Only 32 percent… are at Level 3 or higher,” according to local news outlets. 

They were also allegedly told that if they were unsuccessful, “they would end up being killed or go to jail.” Superintendent LaShakira Moore acknowledged the incident, adding that there was no ill intention behind the assembly. Per the report, Moore issued a statement saying that the “school and organization are committed to restoring the rest of this year.”

According to Fox 35, the school’s former principal will take Evensen’s place in an interim position. Speaking to the outlet, one parent agrees with the decision. 

“Regardless whether she resigned or terminated, as long as she’s not at the school, I’m OK with it,” Jacinda Arrington told the news station. 

During an interview with WJXT, Evensen said the purpose of the assembly was to motivate the students and that they were not specially targeted because of their race. She also noted that the presentation was the idea of another teacher, who is Black.

“What’s being portrayed is not who I am. And that’s not what my intent was. That was not the vision,” she reportedly said, adding, “After talking to families and hearing the frustration, I definitely understand the concern of having the students that were participating only being African-American students. “And so I would, in hindsight, do that differently. But I never was looking at it from a racial aspect.”

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