Miami Country Day School administrator on leave after alleged racist remarks

Head of school sends letter to parents asking for understanding, patience

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Andrew Perez - Reporter

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - An administrator at Miami Country Day School has been placed on leave after allegations surfaced that she made racist remarks to students.

In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, the head of the school said the incident occurred while Upper School Director Dana Vignale was "attempting to maintain order" in the lunch line.

Students claim Vignale told them they were acting like public school children in Liberty City.

"Yesterday afternoon, I met with the Upper School Director, Ms. Vignale, to share your and my concerns," Head of School Mariandl Hufford wrote. "After this discussion, I advised her that I would be taking the remainder of this week to continue to have conversations, listen and gain understanding."

Hufford said Vignale is on administrative leave for the remainder of the week. The assistant director, Jill Robert, assumed Vignale's responsibilities.

Amber Hayward works at Liberty City Elementary School. She said the reference puts down her children and makes a blanket statement on the community.

"If you look at a child, you understand that every child can learn, no matter where they come from, so that doesn't even make sense," Hayward said.

Vignale was appointed as the upper school director earlier this year. Hufford said at the time that Vignale is "a leader who has varied and deep experience in the best practices of secondary education and who will work alongside our remarkable teachers to build upon the strengths of our upper school."

According to her hiring announcement, Vignale previously served as executive director of Miami-Dade County Public Schools' Office of School Choice and Innovation.

"I humbly ask for your understanding and your patience as we work through this process," Hufford wrote. "My decision will be aligned with our mission and will be what is in the best interest of our students and our school. I believe that taking this time will allow me to determine the best path to take. As soon as I have reached a decision, I will let you all know." 

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