Pinellas elementary principal's e-mail raises ire of parents, NAACP

By Saundra Weathers, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017, 10:25 AM EDT

A Pinellas County elementary school principal is coming under fire after statements made in an email she sent to her staff.

  • Campbell Park elementary principal sent email regarding white students
  • Predominantly black school has struggled, earning label as a "failure factory"
  • Principal Christine Hoffman has apologized, NAACP may file lawsuit

Campbell Park Elementary School Principal Christine Hoffman sent an email to her staff Tuesday morning titled, “class list.”

In the email Hoffman provided class list guidelines. 

Those included: "All grade level list need to be on an excel spreadsheet with a tab for each class." Another line reads, "Discipline-no more than 2 high fliers in a class marked on a spread sheet." 

But there’s a line towards the end of the email that got the attention of the local NAACP chapter. That line in the email from the principal reads, "white students should be in the same class."

"The initial thought was shock," said St. Petersburg NAACP President Maria Scruggs. "As I think the language I used with you, I had to just practically pick myself off of that floor of my car when I read this because I’m thinking, just trying to rationalize in my own head what could have been intended by this." 

Scruggs says she couldn’t come up with a reason.

Late Thursday afternoon principal Hoffman didn’t offer up a reason either but she did send out an apology to her staff. In it she acknowledges the email-saying she used “poor judgment.” Her letter goes on to say, “I made a mistake and I am sorry.” Hoffman also told teachers she values diversity and, “the email I wrote does not represent my commitment to our students and our school community.”

Campbell Park Elementary is no stranger to controversy. 

It's one of the five Pinellas County, predominantly black, schools dubbed as the failure factories.

"The fact that it happened in any school," Scruggs said. "The fact that it happened in Campbell park. A school where obviously our children have been failed academically adds to the pain threefold."

The NAACP is suing the Pinellas County School district in federal court about their desegregation practices. 

Scruggs says a simple apology for using the words, “white students should be in the same class,” in an email to staff just isn’t enough. She plans to contact school superintendent Doctor Mike Grego.

“What I’m hoping I’m not going to hear that there’s simply an acceptance of an apology and that we made bad judgment and we just keep moving forward. We don’t keep moving forward,” she said.

The Pinellas school district had no comment.