A Texas school has reinstated a teacher put on administrative leave because she adorned her virtual classroom with Black Lives Matter and pro-LGBTQ posters, district officials said.
Taylor Likfa, an English teacher at Roma High School, was pulled Sunday following complaints from parents about a background for her virtual classroom that featured a BLM poster, a rainbow flag and a Spanish solidarity phrase.
Lifka then posted a screenshot of her creation on social media and was put on leave after refusing to remove the signs, just one day before the first day of online classes, the Texas Tribune reports.
District officials announced Wednesday she had been reinstated following a review of the matter.
“Roma ISD was happy to have the opportunity to better understand Ms. Lifka’s viewpoints and welcome Ms. Lifka back to the classroom,” the statement reads. “The district stands behind the concepts of equality and inclusivity.”
Roma Independent School District Superintendent Carlos Guzman said he regrets that the virtual posters became a “point of controversy” at the school in the border town of 11,000 residents.
“It was never the intention of the district to indicate anything less than full support for the concepts of equality and student safety,” Guzman said in a statement. “As educators and community members, Roma ISD has an obligation to carefully listen to parent concerns and respond to them, taking into consideration the rights of employees and students.”
District officials said they told Lifka Tuesday she was no longer on administrative leave and that she’d be able to keep her original graphic for her virtual classroom as she initially planned.
“She is being allowed that opportunity, provided that the use of the virtual classroom background space in this instance does not come to overly disrupt or detract from the educational process or the learning environment,” the district’s statement continued.
Lifka, meanwhile, told NBC News she learned during a Zoom call Wednesday that district officials were reversing their decision.
“They say I haven’t been punished, and that’s fine, but at the same time I’m a human being and this has been challenging,” Lifka said. “To think about re-entering the classroom tomorrow gives me a lot of pause, because I need a moment to collect myself.”
A school administrator told Lifka residents in the small town were “not ready” for some of her progressive views, she told NBC News.
“I need support from the administration, knowing I can re-enter the classroom, that we are all on the same page knowing what I can and cannot say to my students,” Lifka told the outlet.
More than 33,000 people had signed an online petition as of Friday demanding Lifka’s reinstatement.
“Please sign this petition to let the school district know that inclusivity and acceptance are not taboo ideas that deserve censorship,” the petition reads.
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