MONDAY UPDATE: Statement from Voltich added below.
A Florida middle school teacher has been removed from the classroom while her school district investigates a Huffington Post report that she hosts a white supremacist podcast, her district announced Sunday.
In a Monday statement obtained by NBC News, the teacher admits she’s the podcast host, but says she was employing “political satire and exaggeration” to attract listeners.
Dayanna Voltich, 25, teaches social studies at Citrus County School District’s Crystal River Middle School. A Saturday post claims Voltich also hosts the “Unapologetic Podcast” as “Tiana Dalichov.” The report includes a 16-minute excerpt from a Feb. 26 podcast on which “Dalichov” talks with a guest about white nationalists infiltrating schools.
“We have to take those institutions back,” “Dalichov” said. “Children is very important. The communists always knew that. They always wanted the minds of the children. That’s the future. So, if we can have more teachers in those positions, that would be great. And I do hear from teachers all the time, people who are closet “Red Ice” listeners that support what we do and I think that’s fantastic. We need a lot more of that.”
The website AngryWhiteMen.org posted on Thursday that the guest was Lena Lokteff, wife of Henrik Palmgren, owner of white nationalists multimedia outlet “Red Ice.”
Bigotry tracker Southern Poverty Law Center lists Red Ice among white nationalist hate groups. The Twitter account profile for @redicetv includes hashtags “EuropeFirst” and “Identitarian.” Example of a headline from its website: “Greatest Philosophers Were All White European Men.”
On the podcast, Lokteff mocked the idea that “The kid from Nigeria and the kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same, have exactly the same IQ because ‘Equality!’ There’s not a difference between the ethnicities and the races. They’re all expected to do the same, but that’s not the reality of it.”
On her since-deleted Twitter account, “Dalichov” used a picture of Voltich as the profile picture. The account extolled the work of men such as proudly anti-Semitic author Kevin MacDonald and Tweeted opinions such as, “It isn’t supremacist or hateful to prefer your own people over others.”
Voltich’s Monday statement as it was included with a story posted by Miami's NBC6, read:
“None of the statements released about my being a white nationalist or white supremacist have any truth to them, nor are my political beliefs injected into my teaching of social studies curriculum. While operating under the Russian pseudonym 'Tiana Dalichov' on social media and the 'Unapologetic Podcast,' I 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.
“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."
Sunday, Citrus County School District Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel posted to the district’s Facebook page:
“On Friday, March 2, 2018 the Citrus County School District was made aware of a concerning podcast by a Huffington Post reporter. The reporter indicated they believed one of the persons participating in the podcast was a teacher at Crystal River Middle School. The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing.
“Pursuant to Florida Statute an open investigation and materials related to it are exempt from public record and cannot be discussed until the investigation is complete.”