Bunnell Elementary School’s new principal, Donelle Evensen, attempted a unique strategy to address academic performance concerns, but it backfired spectacularly, sparking outrage and accusations of racial insensitivity. Here’s the full story.
The Special Assembly
The incident unfolded when Principal Evensen organized a special assembly for fourth and fifth-grade students.
She Only Gathered the Black Students
The principal gathered only the black students, regardless of their individual test scores, and reportedly delivered a message that deeply troubled both students and their parents.
The Issue Took a Racial Turn
For many, the issue took a racial turn when it became apparent that the assembly had singled out black students exclusively, grouping them together irrespective of their academic standing.
The Racist Warning
The students were warned that those with lower grades have a higher chance of going to jail, getting shot, or getting killed.
The Chance to Win
But they were offered the chance to win “a meal from McDonald’s” if they improved their scores.
Boxed All of the Black Children Together
One parent shared her concern: “It became racial for me when they included and boxed all of the black children together, no matter if they were below average, average, or above average.”
The Assembly Had a Big Impact
The aftermath of the assembly has left parents grappling with the emotional fallout on their children.
It Was Shocking
Jacinda Arrington, a concerned parent, expressed her shock, saying, “Now when my daughter has to go take a test, that’s in the back of her mind.”
The Controversy Drew Attention
The controversy drew the attention of school district officials, including interim superintendent LaShakia Moore.
Moore met with Principal Evensen to discuss the incident and its results.
In a statement, Moore conveyed that while there was no malicious intent, the approach had clearly gone awry.
It’s Better to Stay Inside the Box
She said, “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.”
DeSantis’s Controversial Act
The incident also took place in the broader context of Florida’s education landscape, which has been undergoing its own contentious transformation.
Governor Ron DeSantis had introduced the “Stop Woke Act,” a controversial measure aimed at limiting discussions about race in schools.
This act added a layer of complexity to the Bunnell Elementary School controversy, though county officials said that this particular incident was not directly tied to political initiatives.
There Were No Political Angle
Cheryl Massaro, County School Board Chair, distanced the incident from political agendas, saying, “It wasn’t a great idea… It’s sad that it was segregated by race because that’s not fair, but that’s what happened.”
An Inappropriate Approach
Massaro acknowledged the inappropriateness of the approach while stressing that it was a localized mistake rather than a reflection of larger policy shifts.
Automatically the “Black Kids” Fault
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “White students make up 3X the number of Black students… but somehow, without checking individual scores, it was automatically the “Black Kids” fault that the school received a low score.”
A Racist State?
Another User wrote, “Such a Florida thing nowadays – or was it always a racist state and no one noticed? Shame on that school – should all be fired.”
A third user added, “Sounds like Ron De Ku-Klux-Klantis found a ‘colored’ girl to join his hate the blacks move.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vadym Pastukh. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.