A Florida teacher resigned from his position just days before the beginning of the new school year this week, citing the removal of Black history bulletin board in the school where he taught.
Escambia County special education teacher Michael James quit his teaching position at O.J. Semmes Elementary School on Tuesday, writing an email to Escambia County Superintendent Tim Smith and copying Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and various media outlets.
“Our office was made aware of this employee’s resignation and his stated reasons for resigning very early this morning, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Around the same time, we were copied on an email written by this individual and released to the Governor’s Office and various media outlets before we had any opportunity to investigate,” said a statement from the school to The Pensacola News Journal. “If these allegations are deemed factual, we will certainly take corrective action, as it is our aim that all of our teachers feel valued and supported.”
The school’s statement says the school was required to utilize the bulletin board space for specific educational resources for special needs students, and that the removal of the Black history information and images was not carried out for any other reason.
“To be clear, due to the nature of this specific population of students, it is critical the instructional materials be within their line of sight during instruction, for the purposes of student focus and retention,” said the school.
James disputes the school’s defense, saying there was never a mention of such required material being placed in that area of the classroom. “There was never any mention of dedicating the bulletin board to state standards. Not one word even similar to this was mentioned,” James said. “The bulletin board I prepared was fully inline with state standards for this population and it’s pure diversion to state otherwise.”
James has been a special education teacher for 15 years.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: YAHOO NEWS
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