Florida Teacher Resigns After Being Forced to Remove Civil Rights Icons From His Classroom
Michael James, a teacher at O.J. Semmes Elementary School in Pensacola, FL, has resigned after being forced to remove images of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Colin Powell from his classroom.
NBC News reports
A Florida elementary school teacher said he quit his job after another staff member removed his pictures depicting African American leaders.
Michael James, who taught at O.J. Semmes Elementary School in Pensacola, said he had posted images on a bulletin board depicting civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, scientist George Washington Carver and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
He told the Pensacola News Journal that he wanted to display the images so the students, a majority of whom are Black, could see someone they could relate to.
James said it "really floored" him when a staff member removed the photos.
"I've been teaching special education for 15 years, and it just really floored me when she did that," he told the newspaper.
James did not name the staff member. He told the News Journal that he was setting up his classroom before the start of the school year with the help of two co-workers.
The bulletin board containing the images was behind his desk, along with a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance, James said. While he was sitting at a student's desk cutting something out, the staff member started removing items from his bulletin board.
James said the staff member told him that the images were not "age appropriate." He said she also removed an image he had on his desk of former President Barack Obama.
James said he decided to resign because he did not want to work for a school district that would hire someone who behaved that way, the newspaper reported.
Cody Strother, a spokesperson for Escambia County Public Schools, confirmed that it received James' resignation Tuesday. Strother said the district was also included on an email James sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis' office about the incident.
"We are now in the process of conducting a full investigation. If these allegations are deemed factual, we will certainly take corrective action, as it is our aim that all of our teachers feel valued and supported," Strother said in a statement.
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