Pinellas principal will be transferred after racially insensitive comment

Christine Hoffman (Pinellas County Schools)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The principal of Campbell Park Elementary School will be transferred after she made a comment some see as racially insensitive.

Hoffman emailed a class list guideline to staff members last week that suggested that white students should be in the same class.

A district spokeswoman said, that’s not the district’s policy.

“It’s just not our practice to separate students by race, and so when we learned of the situation, it became very concerning to us,” said Lisa Wolf with Pinellas Co. Schools.

Hoffman asked for the transfer Monday. It is effective immediately. Wolf said Hoffman requested the transfer after “realizing the distraction she was putting on the district and the school.”

She will be reassigned to the district office while the investigation continues.

“Our focus now is to make sure that the students here feel supported as well as their families, for the remainder of the school year,” she said.

Hoffman issued an apology, calling her comment a mistake.

Friday she sent a letter home to parents, saying in part:

The guidelines included a statement on assigning white students together, and I explained in the meeting that I was asking that there not be a class 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.  I understand how racially insensitive the guideline was.”

Parent Jasmine Ervin wasn’t buying  it.

“She never should have said it. Period. Whether she meant it or not, it should have never been,” said Ervin. “What did she expect. She brought that on herself.”

In a Monday after school meeting, officials informed parents of Hoffman’s move.

They’re still questioning her intentions.

“I don’t know if it’s going to solve the problem, but just as many white parents is in there and they don’t understand the letter either. So if they don’t understand it, and we don’t understand it, then the school system need to figure it out,” said grandparent Tijuana Norfleet.

Others said Hoffman should be fired all together,

“Principal Hoffman needs to go. She doesn’t need to be transferred to another school where she can teach the same message. She’s teaching hate,” said Velma Newmon.

The assistant principal, Don Lewis,  will take over as acting principal effective Tuesday morning.

NAACP reps said so far, they are in support of the actions the district has taken.

Pending the outcome of the investigation, will determine what action the NAACP takes, according to Maria Scruggs, NAACP St. Petersburg.

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