A middle school teacher in Citrus County is accused of being a racist outside the classroom and possibly sharing those viewpoints inside the classroom with her students.
Crystal River Middle School teacher Dayanna Volitich, 25, was more apologetic now that her weekly podcast titled “Unapologetic” has been exposed.
Volitich was removed from the classroom while the school district investigates troubling, racist comments the 25-year-old teacher allegedly made under the pseudonym 'Tiana Dalichov'.
“She was very nice lady and she would just say hi. That’s it,” said a neighbor who was surprised by the report.
In a statement, Volitich, claims her podcasts and alter-ego were political satire designed to build an audience.
She used the same alias in appearances on fringe YouTube channels.
But months of racist ramblings on Twitter, Facebook, and even her own podcast don’t have a lot of people finding humor in what Volitich calls satire.
“How sensitive things are, I don’t think that was an appropriate action, even with freedom of speech,” said Wesley Armitage, whose son attends Crystal River Middle School.
“You should not have any biases when you're a teacher. You should love everybody,” said Rachel Miller, a teacher at another school.
At Crystal River Middle School, students say the story is all over campus.
“One of my friends had her for fifth period, I think, and they weren’t happy about it,” said sixth-grader Aiden Armitage. “There’s this group of kids that are just all over it sitting on their phones at this table, just all over sharing it with other friends and stuff.”
In a recent podcast with an alt-right media host, Volitich talks about white superiority.
“So many other researchers have already looked into this. And, that’s just the way it is,” she says, “There are races that have higher IQ's than others.”
She also talks about the idea of more people who share such views infiltrating the school system to spread the same message, describing it as a war for young minds.
“It’s not nearly as bloody as a battlefield, but it’s pretty darn close,” she says.
And Volitich even admits during the same podcast to acting and teaching differently when her bosses are around.
“I am pretty aware, hyper-aware that they will be watching, and that they will be listening. So, I am getting a little bit more underhanded as to how I deal with it,” she says.
But freedom of speech does not mean a blanketed freedom from consequences either, says Luke Lirot, a Clearwater attorney specializing in First Amendment rights.
“Under the First Amendment she’s absolutely protected to espouse whatever opinions she has in what’s been called the ‘marketplace of ideas,’” Lirot said, and in most cases in the private sector that freedom could come at the cost of a job, for instance.
Things get murkier if the individual is a public employee, like a school teacher, he said.
“A public school teacher would be an entirely different scenario than a private school teachers,” Lirot said. “The private entity doesn’t really have First Amendment issues to concern itself with but a public school teacher—working for the government—would be protected by the statute that Florida has that neither the personnel, the school board, or any governmental agency can in any way restrict a teacher’s or a student’s First Amendment rights.”
However, there are exceptions—like if an employee signs a moral turpitude clause—and disputes might ultimately lie in whether someone’s viewpoints expressed outside of their job during personal time went on to directly influence their role professionally.
“Most governmental positions have a moral turpitude or different provisions that would govern conduct unbecoming the person in that position and that’s really where I think the dispute is going to lie,” Lirot said.
“Did she cross the line by engaging in what I think is protected speech in her personal life, can they then take action against her in her professional life. Where is the overlap?”
However, even Volitich herself admitted during her podcasts she was open about her views in class and her desire to indoctrinate her students.
Citrus County School District officials declined to appear on camera Monday, but when asked how is it they hadn’t heard about this before it was brought to their attention by a reporter with The Huffington Post, we learned there had been incidents of parents raising concerns.
“I had one at the beginning of this year who emailed the principal over my head and basically told her I am worried that your teacher is injecting political bias into her teaching. And the principal came to me and said I’m not worried, should I be worried? And I’m like no,” Volitich said during her podcast.
Monday, Citrus School District Executive Director Mike Mullen answered an email, stating, “The school received a previous concern from a parent in August. That issue was resolved at the school level. However, we are looking into the facts concerning that issue and it is now part of this investigation.”
For now, the district says Ms. Volitich’s classes will continue with a substitute teacher.
10News reporter Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report.
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