A K-12 school principal in Vermont has been placed on leave, and is unlikely to return, after she made a post criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.
The Mount Ascutney School District board voted unanimously on June 12 to place Windsor School principal Tiffany Riley on paid administrative leave, saying in a statement to the school community that they were “appalled” by a post on her personal Facebook page.
“We are resolved that she will no longer lead our school,” said the board members.
Riley, who has been the principal at the school since 2015, wrote on Facebook that while she believes that Black lives matter, “people should not be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race.”
“I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point,” she wrote. “While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all?”
“Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist,” Riley said at the end of her post.
The school’s valedictorian sent an email to the board notifying them of Riley’s post. A school district superintendent then asked Riley to remove the post and offered to help her write a retraction and an apology.
“She did not do that right away and instead, without my input, posted another comment that the board felt did not retract the first and missed the whole point,” David Baker, the superintendent, said, reported the VT Digger.
Her second post, which said “I understand the struggles of the black lives community and stand with them in their fight against racism,” was deemed “insufficient” by the school board.
After the ordeal, Riley told the board in an email that her post had been “twisted” and “taken completely out of context.”
“I have been accused of being racist for not hoisting a BLM flag, ridiculed for not attending a BLM rally that the Rockwoods organized last Sunday and accused of being a poor leader and role model,” she said in an email obtained by the VT Digger.
Riley’s comments were shared widely among Windsor community and led to calls for her resignation, according to Valley News.
“The ignorance, prejudice, and lack of judgement in these statements are utterly contrary to the values we espouse as a school board and district,” read the school board statement, emphasizing that Windsor is not a racially diverse school, and it is therefore “easy to forget or to be unconscious to the racial inequities that exist in the form of White Privilege in our community and our state.”
A Windsor official told Valley News that the school is planning to take steps to “address racial issues.” These include installing a Black Lives Matter flag, creating “multicultural components” to all classes, and providing staff with “information about combating racism.” She also suggested the school launch a “restorative justice program” to help students “overcome racist beliefs.”