NAPLES, Fla. – An elementary school teacher in Collier County, Florida was reassigned to administrative duties over a Facebook post during the “Day Without Immigrants” protest last Thursday.
Parkside Elementary School computer lab instructor Veronica Fleming linked to a Chicago Tribune story about the nationwide protest and offered her take on the situation.
“The funny part about immigrants staying home is the rest of us who pay for them are here at work like we’ve always been. Looks like less mouths to feed today. Have fun while you still can. So glad to hear about massive deportation. Let’s make America great again. Thanks Donald Trump!”
Collier County Public Schools spokesman Greg Turchetta told the Naples Daily News Fleming’s post didn’t sit well with parents of students at Parkside Elementary, 96 percent of which are minorities.
“This is a very tight-knit neighborhood school that stands for inclusion,” he said. “The teachers have nothing but love for these students. Anything else is not a reflection of the school.”
Juanita Perez, an immigrant mother of two, told NBC 2 she was “offended” by Fleming’s online comments.
“My feelings are hurt for our kids,” she said. “I couldn’t even believe it. How could a teacher speak like that?”
Other parents contend the post was “racist.”
“I was mad. Really, really mad,” said Gabriella Marquez, whose two children are in Fleming’s class. “I would consider it really to be racist.”
District officials removed Fleming from the classroom and reassigned her to the district administrative center while they investigate, Parkside principal Tamie Stewart told NBC 2.
She said many parents called the school to complain.
“We greatly appreciate our parents who have communicated to the school to share concerns so that we can address this issue,” she said. “I want to ensure our families that this person’s individual post is not at all reflective of our school staff in any way.”
“What hurts is that Ms. Fleming works at an elementary school,” Marquez told the Naples Daily News. “These are little kids. What is she teaching them? How was she treating them just because they’re Latinos?”
A petition on Change.org titled “CCOS should fire Veronica Fleming” has also received more than 3,000 signatures of support in the five days since the incident.
“We understand that as a private citizen Mrs. Fleming should be allowed to express herself, however, as an educator at a school composed of predominantly Hispanic, Haitian, and students of other minorities, one should always be professional and behave as an impartial authority figure that is held to higher standards,” the petition reads.