A Campbell Park, Florida, elementary school principal has become the subject of media scrutiny after she reportedly circulated an email to faculty members containing controversial instructions.
In an April 18 email to teachers, Christine Hoffman wrote "white students should be in the same class." After a meeting with teachers about the meaning behind her email, Hoffman issued an apology to WTVT.
"I would like to follow up on my meeting with teachers on Tuesday regarding class lists and the poor judgment I used in an e-mail that went to all our teachers and para professionals. In taking time to reflect on my actions, I felt it was important to write to all of you and share my thoughts. I made a mistake, and I am sorry," she explained in the apology.
"As a white woman leading a predominately black school, I am approaching this as an opportunity to learn,” she said. “Although I have participated in training on diversity and implicit bias, this recent incident makes it clear that I need to seek additional opportunities to apply racial sensitivity and cultural competence in my work."
The principal added that she intended nothing more than to make sure that there were no classes with "only one white student."
"I was not asking that all white students in each grade be clustered, as that is not our practice in creating class lists," she explained.
In a video that surfaced on Campbell Park Elementary’s website, Hoffman claimed that she’d worked for the county for some time.
"As a parent, I know the value of a strong, inclusive class where scholars are encouraged,” she said. “I'm committed to ensuring all my scholars are provided opportunities to do their best everyday.”
In a similar incident, a middle school teacher in Hernando County, Florida, was fired after giving students an assignment that officials deemed inappropriate, which instructed them to circle responses to questions asking them about their level of comfort in certain instances. Examples included sitting next to an "Arab" on an airplane and being confronted by "young black men."
"'How comfy are you if you see a group of black men walking to you on the street?' That's completely inappropriate. In no world, whatsoever, is that okay to question a child on," mother told WVTV.
Student Tori Drews said she received the assignment during her 7th period at school as part of a lesson on people’s differences.
"There were children that were saying this is wrong. 'Why are we doing this?' 'Does this have a reason?' She was going, 'Yeah this is kind of wrong ... maybe I should take it back,'" Drew stated. "Kids were asking if they could share it with their parents. She was like, 'No. Don't show your mom. Don't take that home. I'm taking it back up.'"