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BES Principal Donelle Evensen Placed on Administrative Leave

BES Principal Donelle Evensen is now on administrative leave. ⓒ Flagler Schools

BUNNELL – Donelle Evensen, the embattled principal of Bunnell Elementary School, has been placed on administrative leave by interim Superintendent LaShakia Moore. The move comes in the aftermath of a stunning and highly controversial decision to greenlight an assembly of only Black students to stress higher test scores, featuring premonitions of jail or early death and eventually an academic bracket contest for fast food prizes.

Evensen’s leave is the first major action taken since news of the assemblies broke this week, and the culmination of overwhelming calls for discipline by parents and members of the community. The story was picked up first by local news outlets, then state, and it eventually graced the websites of Fox News and The Washington Post. It’s not the first time in recent years Flagler Schools has been in national headlines, with few of those instances being positive.


The decision to suspend Evensen was likely the catalyst of a last-second postponement of Thursday morning’s planned School Board retreat, in which Board members were scheduled to interview Moore for the permanent superintendent job. That announcement was made under an hour before the scheduled start time, with an ominous allusion to further action at Bunnell Elementary School as the reason. Moore requested the delay herself, and soon thereafter it became apparent why.

Moore will be holding a press conference at 11:30 am, most certainly to elaborate on her decision. She herself has issued two apologies for the assembly, one as a prepared statement and one by video. District personnel have largely tried to maintain the positive intentions of the assemblies, but have made little headway in easing the concerns of the community.

In a post made to his personal Facebook account Thursday, Evensen’s husband adamantly defended the judgment and actions of his wife. “It takes a long time to grow a forest and only minutes to burn it down,” James Evensen said. “The spark in this case was black teachers trying to motivate black students to be more successful.” He conceded the mistake in the assemblies but then turned his scrutiny toward the community members who’ve spoken out. “I see comments that are full of venom and hate. They have no problem putting effort into calling for all those involved jobs and worse, but obviously didn’t share news of the grant she wrote to get a million dollars for her school to improve […] You may be at risk of losing the greatest administrator this school has seen.”

Evensen, who was hired as Bunnell Elementary’s principal in late July, less than a month prior to the debacle surrounding the assembly. Given the widespread media attention surrounding the ordeal, it seems increasingly unlikely she’ll serve another day as principal. That dilemma is likely still to be tackled by Moore and district staff.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.



  1. TR

    August 24, 2023 at 1:32 pm

    Good, now whoever else was involved in this should also be put on leave or even fired. It was a dumb thing to do.

  2. G

    August 25, 2023 at 8:13 am

    I get what her husband is saying, all the positive things his wife has done in that school, but just like anything, you can’t allow something like that assembly to happen on your watch as the leader of that school. Anything positive that happens at that school reflects you, anything negative that happens reflects you! I think every teacher that was involved should be faced with the same punishment, whatever that may be. They have a responsibility to those kids and they failed them!

  3. Sonia Singleton

    August 25, 2023 at 10:56 am

    The assembly format was definitely not a good idea. However this could be a training moment for all involved. It shouldn’t be a fatal error borne from political pressure.

  4. D. Man

    August 25, 2023 at 11:34 am

    It’s terrible that she did such damage to those kids so soon into her job. Imagine what terrible things she’ll do if she continues.


    August 26, 2023 at 9:35 am

    Not a smart move. I understand the intent but… She was likely trying to assemble by CULTURE, but you can’t do that here. Culture and race in the US are intrinsically interlaced.

    A far better idea, which shouldn’t be difficult for an educator, would have been to ask homeroom teachers, based on CURRENT classwork scores AND behavior, to assemble those students into a single group? If you ended up with nearly the same demographics it’s defensible. Assembling by race is just ridiculous and she should have known better.

  6. ViceKnightTA

    August 27, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Only colored people can understand the blatant stupidity of this woman and her cohorts. This is textbook systemic racism, and her stupid fake smile isn’t fooling anyone.

  7. Angela W DiBenedetto

    August 27, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    Agreed… poor choice was made .. I understand what she was trying to accomplish …however.. the idea listed by this person has a basis to the group.Maybe jus have an assembly with all except Kindergarten age students.

    • Victoria

      August 29, 2023 at 11:28 am


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