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Florida school removes teacher who hosted white nationalist podcast

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Photo Credit: Crystal River Middle School / via Facebook Photo Credit: Crystal River Middle School / via Facebook
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A Florida school district has removed a middle school teacher from her classroom after it was revealed that she had secretly hosted a white nationalist podcast, raising concerns that she may have exposed her students to such ideology.

Dayanna Volitich, 25, remains a social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School in Crystal River. The Citrus County School District said Sunday that it was initially contacted by HuffPost about Volitich's ties to the podcast "Unapologetic," which spurred it to notify human resources and launch a review. HuffPost first reported on the allegations on Saturday.

"The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing," the school district said in a statement, declining to release more information until the probe is complete.

In a statement also released Sunday by Volitich's attorney, the teacher did not deny operating the podcast, which she said she did so under the Russian name Tiana Dalichov. But she maintained that she "employed political satire and exaggeration, mainly to the end of attracting listeners and followers, and generating conversation about the content discussed between myself and my guests."

Volitich, however, said that the statements made about her alleged white nationalist views don't "have any truth to them" and that she never injected her political beliefs into her classes.

"The views 'Tiana Dalichov' espouses do not pervade my professional career," she added. "As an adult, my decisions are my own, and my family has nothing whatsoever to do with my social media accounts or my podcast. From them, I humbly ask for forgiveness, as it was never my intention to cause them grief while engaging in a hobby on my personal time."

Volitich could not immediately be reached for further comment.

The educator ran the podcast and a related Twitter account — since taken down — that expressed racially charged messages and white nationalist views, HuffPost reported.

One tweet posted by @TianaDalichov said in February: "It isn't supremacist or hateful to prefer your own people over others."

In another tweet last fall, the account shared a picture of a workbook that mentioned "confronting racism in classrooms."

"I literally feel brain cells dying as I read this (expletive)," the post said.

NBC News has not independently verified HuffPost's report.

In a Feb. 26 episode of the "Unapologetic" podcast, Volitich interviewed prominent white nationalist Lana Lokteff, a host of Red Ice TV, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a hate group. When the school's principal approached her about expressing her political views to students, Volitich said on the podcast that she lied and said the parents' concerns were unfounded.

"And she believed me," Volitich said with a laugh.

The conversation between Lokteff and Volitich circled around numerous topics, including teaching white nationalist ideology to children, how Volitich felt constrained by her school's administration and the need for private schools in which white nationalist views could be taught outright. "Hit me up when you're ready," Volitich said.

They also commented on how some races are better than others.

"This is science though," Volitich added. "So many other researchers have already looked into this. That's just the way it is. There are races that have higher IQs than others."

Crystal River Middle School is nearly 90 percent white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The community is about 80 miles north of Tampa.

A mother of a student in Volitich's social studies class told NBC News that her daughter recounted at least one troubling conversation.

"They were talking about segregation in a civil rights type of capacity, and the teacher somewhat alluded that segregation might possibly be OK in her opinion," said parent Meredith Bleakley.

Bleakley said she had a discussion with her daughter to speak up if she feels a teacher is being inappropriate.

"This is not what this community stands for," she added. "This is a small town, so it's very upsetting to find out that this is going on in our school system."

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