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Former Jacksonville teacher at center of controversy for not removing BLM flag gets $300k settlement

Amy Donofrio's activism put her at the center of debate after she declined to take down a Black Lives Matter sign from over her classroom door.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools has agreed to pay $300,000 to a teacher removed from her Lee High classroom when she refused to take down a Black Lives Matter flag.

Amy Donofrio sued the school district in April claiming the district retaliated against her and violated her right to free speech. She subsequently was removed from her classroom and assigned non teaching duties until late summer, when her contract with the district was not renewed. 

“For Principal Feagins to not renew me, and the board to support the nonrenewal, it was a blindsiding moment I think,” Donofrio said.

Donofrio taught at Riverside High School (formerly Robert E. Lee High School) from 2012 to 2021. She earned distinction for helping to found the EVAC Movement, a nationally recognized youth group aimed at helping disadvantaged kids.

“It’s not just a school," Donofrio said. "It’s not just a job. It is part of my heart.”

Her activism put her in the crosshairs of the administration, most recently when she refused to remove a Black Lives Matter sign from over her classroom door.

“They have shown me what it’s like to be brave and to stand for things that matter,” Donofrio said.

According to the settlement, school officials initiated a disciplinary investigation into Donofrio in March. Soon after, she filed a civil action in federal court. According to the settlement, because of the School Board’s “desire to resolve all pending issues and settle all matters, including all claims, potential claims,” they will pay Donofrio $300,000 “in three separate checks: (i) $120,000, less taxes (W-2 for earnings related claims), payable to Amy Donofrio; (ii) $120,000, without withholdings (1099 general release classified as “other income” for other claims alleged in the complaint), payable to Amy Donofrio; and, (iii) $60,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs."

In return, it says Donofrio “fully and freely releases and discharges” all “claims, charges, actions or causes of action of any kind or nature that Employee once had or now has, whether such claims are now known or unknown, including any claims arising from or relating to her employment with the School Board.”

Donofrio said she plans to continue working with the youth in the community outside the classroom. 

"I stood with the youth in our community for the past 9 years, and that is not going to change,” Donofrio said.

First Coast News has reached out to Donofrio and the school district for comment relating to the settlement, but both declined.

Section 9i of the settlement prevents either party from making a public statement regarding the terms of the agreement.

Credit: Amy Donofrio
Amy Donofrio

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