Florida elementary school isolates Black students at assembly, reportedly offers gift cards to improve scores

A Flagler County, Florida, elementary school stepped in it when it made the bone-headed decision to pull black fourth and fifth-grade students out of their classrooms over poor test scores for their own assembly.

(Video Credit: First Coast News)

The move was apparently meant to help the students by discussing ways to improve their standardized test scores. However, parents were incensed over the assembly, calling it segregation and discriminatory. The district’s interim superintendent confirmed the incident occurred claiming it was not the right way to handle the situation.

According to Fox 35, numerous black students in fourth and fifth grades were called by name out of their classrooms on Friday to attend a special assembly in the Bunnell Elementary School cafeteria. Parents were not notified ahead of time and only learned it had taken place from their children or other parents.

When his 10-year-old fifth-grader told Darryl Williams about the assembly, he said it “made my blood boil,” according to Fox 35.

What makes this even worse is that black students who performed well on the standardized tests were also called to the assembly. They were allegedly brought to the front of the gathering and embarrassingly held up as examples by teachers discussing failing test scores. Students were reportedly offered gift cards to fast-food restaurants as a reward for getting better scores.

According to WFLA Tampa, students were allegedly lectured on being successful and were told if they weren’t, they could end up killed or going to jail.

“You left the white children to continue their education, and the black children had to go out to be talked about the consequences of not being successful,” one parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, angrily told WESH.

Cheryl Massaro, the Flagler County Schools board chair, confirmed to Fox 35 that black students were “isolated” for the assembly. She asserted that it should never have happened.

A statement was issued by Interim Superintendent Lashakia Moore on the incident via the district’s website. She claimed that she met with Bunnell Elementary Principal Donelle Evensen following the assembly and discussed what led to the presentation, as well as what steps were, or were not, taken before and after it occurred.

“In speaking with Mrs. Evensen, it is clear there was no malice intended in planning this student outreach. However, sometimes, when you try to think ‘outside the box,’ you forget why the box is there,” Moore commented. “While the desire to help this particular subgroup of students is to be commended, how this was done does not meet the expectations we desire among Flagler Schools.”

She added that the district wants parents and guardians to actively participate in their children’s educational successes. Failing to inform the parents of the assembly or plans to raise the scores was unacceptable. Moore admitted parents were not properly engaged.

The superintendent said the district is continuing to investigate the situation. She urged anyone who has questions to contact Bunnell Elementary’s principal or herself directly.

Moore stated that from this point forward, “all of our schools will engage our parents, no matter what group or subgroup their children may be in, in our continued efforts to raise achievement among all students.”

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