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A Duval County charter school principal is on leave as officials investigate allegations of racists posts on her Facebook page.
Charter Schools USA announced on Monday that principal Kimberly Stidham of Duval Charter School at Baymeadows is on leave, three days after Action News Jax spoke with parents concerned about her posts on social media.
One post that got the most attention appeared to be song lyrics that include, “Take all of the rope in Texas, find a tall Oak tree, round up all of them bad boys, hang them high in the street for all the people to see that.”
Action News Jax reporter Larry Spruill spoke to several parents about the posts.
“She’s a principal, she should know better and she should do better," one parent whose child goes to the school. "I’m speaking out because I'm hoping to bring awareness to other parents. Not just minority parents, but parents who have their child there in general."
"Everything I saw kind of had an anti-black sentiment to it," she said. "It definitely left me thinking, that um, if not hatred, that she at least had some severe prejudice against minorities, against black people.”
Parents said they brought the issue to the school.
"The feeling that I got from them was that they maybe shared the same views, or didn’t really care. They were just going to brush it under the rug,” she said.
Action News Jax received a statement about Stidham's status on Monday:
Dear Parents and Guardians:
As you may be aware, a news story surfaced recently regarding allegations against Ms. Stidham. These allegations require a thorough review. This will enable us to ensure that our students are served in the way you expect and they deserve. There are many factors to consider. Please understand that we are taking this very seriously.
Ms. Stidham is on leave pending the outcome of this review. In her absence, we have a strong leadership team that will be led by Ms. Reynolds. I will work closely with Ms. Reynolds and the rest of the leadership team to assure our students continue to receive the education, care, love and support they've come to know as part of our school family.
Our end goal is to make sure our students are served well and we remain steadfastly focused on educating them and providing an academic environment that promotes excellence. Your support during this time is greatly appreciated.
Regional Director of Education for North Florida"
Statements from Principal Stidham and Charter Schools USA sent to Action News Jax on Friday:
“I am absolutely devastated that my personal political views were perceived to be racist in any way. I am a firm believer in equality, justice and respect for all individuals and I recognize now that some of my posts could have been misunderstood. I appreciate the fact that those who were offended brought this to my attention so that I could rectify the situation. I encourage anyone who has any concerns about this to come to me directly so that we can discuss it further.” - Kim Stidham, principal of Duval Charter Schools at Baymeadows
“Duval Charter School at Baymeadows values all people regardless of their race, gender, religious or political views. While we do not restrict our employees from their right to free speech when operating privately, we do not condone any expressions that incite violence, racism or hate. While we are not at liberty to discuss any specific personnel matters, we can say that we conduct a thorough investigation and take all appropriate actions.” – Colleen Reynolds, spokesperson for Duval Charter School at Baymeadows
Cox Media Group