Crystal River, FL
A Florida middle school teacher came under fire from school administrators and on social media, after a HuffPost investigation revealed she had been hosting a white-nationalist podcast titled “Unapologetic.”
Dayanna Volitich is host of the white nationalist podcast “Unapologetic” and, until April 2018, was a social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School in Crystal River, Florida, a town located approximately 80 miles north of Tampa. She operated under the pseudonym Tianna Dalichov and managed a Twitter account with more than 1,000 followers.
Christopher Mathias, Jenna Amatulli, and Rebecca Klein are the HuffPost journalists who broke the investigation into Volitich. Mathias is a national reporter, Amatulli a trends reporter, and Klein an education reporter.
“Unapologetic” premiered as a pilot episode on February 6, 2018, on “Remso Republic,” another podcast hosted by Remso Martinez, an “independent journalist” and “advocate for individual liberty,” according to his SoundCloud account. “Unapologetic” described itself as “a show that jumps into hard and taboo topics combining facts, class, and sass,” and it launched on Apple Podcasts and the popular podcasting platform Stitcher.
In an episode of “Unapologetic” that aired on February 26, 2018, Volitich’s guest — Lana Lokteff, who hosts her own far-right podcast and co-owns with her husband the media outlet Red Ice, which was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — opposed the notion that “a kid from Nigeria and a kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same” and “have the same IQ.” Volitich herself went on to assert that some races are more intelligent than others. This theory, known as social Darwinism, has long been discredited, but has often been used to justify racism. In the same episode, Volitich confessed to lying to her own school’s principal after parents complained that she was injecting political bias into her lessons. Volitich agreed with Lokteff’s suggestion that white supremacists need to infiltrate public schools as teachers, saying, “I’m absolutely one of them.”
Volitich also espoused Islamophobic sentiments in her podcast. The summary of the episode, titled “Growth of Islam,” describes the religion as an “ideology hell-bent on destroying Western culture.” She discussed a 2018 Pew Research Center study projecting that Muslims will replace Jews as the country’s second-largest religious group after Christians by 2040. Volitich said, “it’s just so perplexing watching the world’s strange embracing of Islam while still stubbornly denying the reality of that ideology.”
The podcast host also often expressed seemingly racist and Islamophobic views on Twitter. In October 2017, the social media platform suspended her account after she suggested that terror attacks would continue unless Muslims are “eradicate[d] … from the face of the earth.” After her account was reinstated, Volitich—as Dalichov—wrote, “Apologize for my absence. Twitter confined me in Twitter jail for the second time this week for educating people on the horrors of Islam.” In other tweets, she asserted that “systemic racism and white privilege aren’t real” and complained about having to read an education training textbook on “confronting racism in the classroom.” She also tweeted, “It isn’t supremacist or hateful to prefer your own people over others.”
The HuffPost investigation, published on March 3, 2018, connected the online Tiana Dalichov pseudonym with Volitich, after comparing details like age and place of residence. Dalichov had also mentioned starting work at a middle school in 2016, which the Citrus County School District confirmed was when Volitich began working at Crystal River. The reporters were also able to match Dalichov’s Twitter photo to the one that appeared on her middle school’s public website. Finally, as HuffPost pointed out, the names Tiana Dalichov and Dayanna Volitich are near anagrams of each other.
School district investigation opened, Volitich removed from classroom
Following the HuffPost inquiry, the Citrus County School District opened its own investigation into Volitich, saying that she “does not speak on behalf of the Citrus County School District” and that her views are “really not in line with how our district operates.” On March 4, 2018, the day after the revelations in HuffPost, the school district announced it would remove Volitich from the classroom in accordance with the human resources investigation. The statement called the podcast “concerning.”
According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the investigative file revealed that school board officials had found probable cause to discipline Volitich, but not for her speech. Instead, the investigation, which was made public April 20, focused on whether Volitich had 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.” However, interviews with students revealed that Volitich had discussed her political views, with one student remarking that the teacher had said the Ku Klux Klan was “a good thing,” that immigration should be shut down, and that schools should reinstate segregation. Another student recalled a lesson in which Volitich used a student of color to explain slavery.
It is unclear what sanctions Volitich might have faced, given that she resigned before the investigation had concluded. But she may still suffer repercussions for her conduct, as a review of the case is underway, reported the Chronicle.
“Unapologetic” deleted, Volitich resigns
After the school investigation was opened, Dalichov tweeted that she would be “going away for a while” and proceeded to make her Twitter account private, meaning only those she approves may follow it and view her tweets. Her podcast website was subsequently deleted, though some media outlets downloaded episodes and published them online. Soon thereafter, Volitich released a statement through her lawyer, saying that her podcast had employed “political satire and exaggeration.” She denied being a white nationalist or white supremacist.
She submitted her resignation to the Citrus County School District on April 2, 2018, and the school board accepted it eight days later, WTSP reported.
Prepared by Jesus Rodriguez ‘19
Uploaded May 21, 2018