The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with civil rights firm Scott Wagner and Associates, are now representing Donofrio in the lawsuit. The lawsuit has named the school district, as well as former principal supervisor Scott Schneider for “relentless retaliation and violation of her rights to free speech and expression.”
“I hope this case will set a needed precedent. Teachers should not be punished for supporting their students’ humanity,” Donofrio told the news outlet. “Our students matter, and as educators, we will no longer tolerate them being systemically damaged, silenced, and failed. To our Black students, we see you, we stand with you, and you matter,” she continued.
DCPS employees are banned from backing social movements or causes including flags, banners or signage on district property according to Action News Jax. The official school policy says, “No employee shall use his/her position in any way to influence or attempt to influence students to support or oppose any candidate, party or issue. Such prohibition shall include, but not be limited to, any form of advocacy or opposition in a classroom or school setting or other school-related student-teacher relationship.”
However, the lawsuit claims the timing of the request is suspect, saying it was only after speaking out against ‘hate speech’ at community meetings for the renaming of several Jacksonville public schools that administrators requested the flag be taken down.
Since the removal some of Donofrio’s students created a petition demanding the school “Bring Back Ms. Donofrio.” The petition 17-year-old Jayla Caldwell, a senior at Lee High School says, “At my school we have this AMAZING teacher Ms. Amy Donofrio who has done nothing but support and push any child she came across for the best. She has always advocated for racial equality and social justice since before I even entered high school.”