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Douglas Anderson principal is at least temporarily out, following diversity criticism

Faculty is not to contact her during that time period, but her title at the school remains principal.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Note: The video above is from a previous report.)

The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Principal is out, for now, while she receives diversity training. Faculty is not to contact her during that time period, but her title at the school remains principal. It’s unclear how long she’ll be away from campus.

The news follows a tumultuous week for Hammer, where she faced criticism for her and the school’s attempt to host a series of student diversity and inclusion meetings that were separate by race. 

On Friday, teachers and faculty at the school were notified at an internal meeting that Hammer would receive diversity and inclusion training from the University of North Florida Center for Urban Education and Policy, at least two staff members who attended the meeting confirmed.  

Internal emails obtained by the Times-Union show that at around 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, Jay Franklin, the school’s assistant principal of curriculum, announced a last-minute faculty meeting to take place Friday, after school. 

“I apologize for the short notice but appreciate your attention to this matter,” Franklin said in the email. 

Hammer started working at Douglas Anderson in 2005, where she first served as a math teacher and assistant principal. This is her fourth year as principal. 

Hammer and the school district could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Earlier this week, following the string of negative attention the proposed diversity meetings garnered, Hammer addressed students and faculty at the school over the intercom before dismissal on Tuesday. 

"From the bottom of my heart, I want to apologize," she said at the time. "I look around this school, and I can see the hurt and pain. I truly don’t know what to say except I care deeply about each and every one of you, and the experience you have at DA. And you each deserve to have the best possible high school experience. I remain 100 percent dedicated to working together with you to improve the racial and cultural experience of our school."

Hammer continued, “we are fractured, but we are family. The work is hard, and I have made mistakes, but I love each of you. I do hope you forgive me, and we continue strengthening our family together."

Still, days after, students continued to voice frustrations with Hammer’s leadership. On private social media channels, they posted memes hoping for her resignation. 

Racial tensions have been sweltering on campus at Douglas Anderson for years, but more of its been in the public eye lately, with students and even faculty members suggesting that racial slurs are thrown around on campus by students and that other microaggressions are occurring often — enough to prompt the school to hire outside council. 

First Coast News has obtained a copy of a letter that the Regional Superintendent of High Schools sent out to students and parents. You can read the full letter below.

Dear Douglas Anderson Families,

I am writing to keep you informed about changes and developments at Douglas Anderson as we continue to work on building a great school culture and the best possible high school experience for our students.

Toward that goal, we will be temporarily assigning Principal Hammer to a short leave of absence to pursue training and professional development in building cross-cultural relationships with students, staff, families, and community, as well as other race and culturally related topics. Ms. Hammer will be working intensively with the University of North Florida Center for Urban Education Policy to develop her skills and strategies for leading the DA community through this unique time in its history. We look forward to her return to the school in about a month. During this time, our assistant principal, Mr. Franklin, will assume day-to-day leadership of the school.

Because of the timing, we have not had the opportunity to share this with students. I ask that you please make them aware, and feel free to share this email directly with them. Since it is more than a week before we return to school, I encourage you or your students to write me if you have any questions or feedback. My email address is schneiders@duvalschools.org. It is important that we have open lines of communication as we work in partnership for the school and for your student’s high school experience.

I look forward to hearing from you via email if you have feedback or questions.

Sincerely,

Scott Schneider

Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.

Click here to read more from the Florida Times-Union.