The Citrus County School District in Florida received two complaints about teacher Dayanna Volitich in the months before a March HuffPost article exposed her as the host of a white nationalist podcast, according to the results of a school district investigation.
One complaint, filed by a parent last August, expressed concerns that Volitich was injecting political bias into her middle school classroom. Another complaint, made anonymously, informed administrators of Volitich’s Twitter alias, Tiana Dalichov, and of her racially incendiary musings online.
Following those complaints, the district monitored Volitich’s social media, made more visits to her classroom and interviewed students. But at the time, the kids did not substantiate the concerns about her teaching, and administrators did not notice anything out of line.
Earlier this year, HuffPost informed the district of a podcast in which Volitich brags about bringing her political views into her social studies classes. Following the HuffPost report, Volitich was removed from the classroom and an investigation was begun. In April, Volitich formally resigned from her post. This week the results of the investigation were released and reported by the Citrus County Chronicle.
The investigative report said that the inquiry had centered on whether Volitich violated “professional practices by being deceptive in changing her teaching practices when administration enters her classroom and by encouraging her students to go along with the deception.”
Indeed, in a Feb. 26, 2018, podcast, Volitich said that when parents complained about her inserting her white nationalist opinions into her teaching, she lied to school administrators and said it wasn’t true.
The investigation found probable cause for disciplining Volitich. But because she has already resigned, the district will not be taking further action, according to the report.
Investigators interviewed 16 students and four other teachers. Most of the interviewed students had positive feelings about Volitich’s class and her ability as an educator. Most also said that she had a habit of discussing her political views in class, but denied that they were told not to inform their parents or encouraged to change the topic when administrators visited.
But five students said Volitich made them uncomfortable when she discussed topics like immigration, segregation, President Donald Trump and the Democrats.
One student, who is biracial, told administrators that Volitich described the Ku Klux Klan as “a good thing,” called for immigration to be “shut down” and said segregation should be restored in schools. Another student said that Volitich told the class that Democrats believe they need help raising pets or children, whereas Republicans don’t believe they need help with such activities. Another said that Volitich would sometimes talk about how Hillary Clinton should be in jail and claim that Democrats want to raise your taxes.
Of the four teachers interviewed, one expressed concern about Volitich injecting racial bias into her classroom practices and took issue with Volitich allegedly seating black male students together. The educator also described a tense conversation with Volitich about politics, in which the educator expressed fears that Trump would try to get rid of black people. In response, Volitich simply said, “Well,” the educator alleges.
The parent who had filed the complaint last August told investigators about new comments made to his son. Volitich allegedly told the child that “Google is down because the Democrats were busy helping to delete all Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.”
District officials did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the results of the investigation. Volitich’s lawyer, Charles E. Moore, also did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Volitich’s answer to the allegations is included in the investigative report. She took issue with the inquiry’s results, suggesting that media coverage might have primed students to remember more innocuous comments. She also responded to many of the kids’ specific claims. In response to the allegation that she said Democrats need help raising pets and children, Volitich said she was teaching students about the two major political parties. Instead of arguing that Clinton belongs in jail, Volitich claimed that she said Clinton should be in jail if there is proof she committed a crime. Her comment about Google and Clinton’s emails was a joke, she said.
“Over 85% of the students interviewed stated they learned a lot in my class, felt they were able to express their own opinions and views, denied my telling them not to talk to their parents about material discussed in class,” Volitich wrote.
She also vehemently disagreed with the one former colleague’s recollection of certain discussions.
The other teacher “admits no one but she and I were present for these conversations, and that she never reported anything to administration or to the district. Everything she claimed is mere hearsay, a terrible warping of the truth designed to smear my character,” Volitich wrote.
Jenna Amatulli contributed to this report.