A Black teacher at a Florida elementary school has resigned following an assembly where Black fourth- and fifth-grade students were targeted with fast-food gift cards as incentives to improve low test scores.
On Monday, according to CNN, Flagler County Public Schools spokesperson Jason Wheeler shared a resignation letter from Anthony Hines, who led the racially segregated assembly at Bunnell Elementary School on Aug. 18.
“I’m devastated,” said Hines, CNN reported. “I’ve had a hard time. I’ve been teaching for 28 years, and I’m just devastated.”
Hines’ exit came one day after Bunnell’s principal, Donelle Evensen, informed Superintendent LaShakia Moore she was resigning. Hines and Evenson were put on paid administrative leave in August pending an investigation.
Flagler County School Board chair Cheryl Massaro told CNN in an email last month that during the assembly, a PowerPoint presentation on goals and objectives for the 2023-24 school year read: “AA have underperform (sic) on standardized assessment for the last past 3 years.”
According to The Associated Press, two Black instructors led the presentation, which parents said also emphasized how students with higher grades had a better chance of attending college while those with lower scores were likelier to be arrested, shot or killed.
Officials called high-performing students to the front of the assembly as model examples.
Hines asserted that the purpose of the gathering was to speak with the children in a personal setting to instill excitement about the objective of improving grades and test scores. However, he admitted, he failed to consider its nature, CNN reported.
He stated he did not want to stir up additional issues for Bunnell, prompting him to submit his resignation to keep from casting any more “negative light.”
“We had a good time in the assembly. I kid you not, but I didn’t think it through, and I take full responsibility for that,” Hines said, according to CNN. “There are violations that were broken. I could have handled it better.”