Bunnell Elementary School held a segregated assembly for Black fourth and fifth graders to tell them they weren't doing well enough on standardized tests. The Black students were sent to the cafeteria without regard to their actual test scores. High-performing Black students were included in the assembly, though some were marched across the stage as examples for the rest. Low-performing white students weren't included in the assembly.
The Interim Flagler County Superintendent LaShakia Moore issued a video statement in which she apologized and suggested there would be reprimands for those involved. An earlier apology wasn't as strong and didn't satisfy parents and community members.
“Though no malice was intended in the assembly, it was executed in a way that does not align with the views of Flagler schools, the Flagler County School Board or this community," said Moore. "Students should never be separated by race. We acknowledge that this and other subgroups of students must improve, but our commitment is improved academic achievement for all students.”
On average, Black students fared less well than other students, as did disabled students who were not part of the assembly; only Black students were singled out. Students were told they would be paired in competition, and those who performed well would receive "fast food."
Interim Superintendent Moore was previously scheduled for a three-hour interview with the Flagler County School Board for consideration to become the permanent Superintendent. Flagler had been conducting a lengthy search for the position before deciding to promote Moore to the job.
Bunnell Elementary Principal Donelle Evensen, who is white, seemed to feel the issue was failing to inform parents in advance. Three other faculty members involved are Black.
“I want to assure you, there was no malice intended in planning this assembly," said Evensen. "However, we failed to inform you, our parents and guardians of these plans. We realize we went against our long-held belief that this must be a team effort, with you being a key member of that team."
Mike Rinaldi, who now heads the Office of Professional Standards, is conducting an investigation. The principal and one teacher have been suspended with pay while the investigation is ongoing.