Richfield educators fear possible retaliation for Black Lives Matter shirts

A family outreach worker at a Richfield elementary school believes she was suspended after planning to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt to school as part of a planned protest.

Jessi Martinez wanted to wear the t-shirt to Richfield STEM Elementary, along with several other educators at the school, on the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She never got the chance to wear the shirt, claiming the district banned the protest.

Two days prior to the planned protest, a group of 13 educators informed the principal of their plans to wear the shirts as a simple way to stand with students of color, or so they thought.

From there, the district office got involved. In a statement, the superintendent says administration shared the viewpoint that not including the entire staff could result in the division of staff. The statement goes on to say  the following week Richfield Public Schools organized a district wide equity event that was an inclusive opportunity for all staff, adding throughout this process no discipline of staff was ever discussed or taken.

The full statement is posted on the district’s website.

Fast forward to this week and Martinez says she was suspended on Monday.

The group Social Justice Education Movement says this is a pattern they've seen the district take against teachers speaking out. The group claims four teachers also planning to wear the BLM shirts have had their positions cut, and other staff feel intimated. Martinez, who has been the family outreach worker for the school for five years, believes she's the latest target.

The full statement from Social Justice Education Movement is posted here.