John Patrick Holian (pictured), the principal of a Long Island Catholic school, has resigned after an incident involving an 11-year-old black student
The white headmaster of a Long Island Catholic school who reportedly forced an 11-year-old black student to kneel and apologize to a teacher has resigned.
John Patrick Holian, the principal of St. Martin de Porres Marianist School in Uniondale, New York, reportedly said that kneeling to ask for forgiveness was the “African way.”
Holian was placed on leave prior to his discharge, while the St. Martin de Porres Marianist School said it will continue to review the event to ensure something similar never happens again, CBS 2 New York reported
Holian’s suspension stemmed from an incident last month involving a Haitian-American sixth-grade student, Trayson Paul, according to the New York Daily News
On February 25, Trayson was in English class when he finished a reading assignment and started another task because, according to his mother, Trisha Paul, he wanted to get ahead.
That’s when Trayson was scolded by the teacher for doing the wrong assignment, Paul said.
The teacher took Trayson to the headmaster’s office. There, Holian allegedly told Trayson to kneel and say sorry.
Holian is said to have told Trayson that kneeling and apologizing was a method of asking for forgiveness, which the principal learned from a Nigerian father of a former student who claimed it was the “African way.”
Haiti is a North American country in the Caribbean Sea.
“Once he started naming this African family, it just clicked,” Paul told Daily News.
Like, this is not a normal procedure. I felt there was no relevance at all.
‘Does he generalize that anyone who is black is African? Then I realized that something is wrong with this situation. ‘
The boy’s mother said the family suspects that Trayson was treated more harshly because of his race.
She said her son, who is normally an outgoing and socially active child, has become “really reserved” since the incident. As a result, according to Paul, he started seeing a therapist.
Holian was headmaster at the $ 15,000 St. Martin de Porrest Marianist School in Uniondale, New York (above). According to the New York Daily News, Holian forced a sixth-grader black from a Haitian-American family to kneel and apologize to a teacher for being the “African way.”
Holian met the boy’s mother and told her the point of the discipline is ‘your son sees he can’t talk to women that way’
“My son was humiliated, hurt, ashamed, sad and confused,” the concerned mother told the Daily News.
He reads about things that happen because of your skin color. To experience it … he just tries to process it in his 11-year-old brain. ‘
Holian told the Daily News that “we love our students here,” noting that the “vast majority” of the enrolled children are students of color, although he declined to comment on the details of the allegations.
On Friday, school officials sent an email to parents informing them that Holian had been placed on temporary leave while the case is under investigation.
“I want to assure you that St. Martin’s neither approves nor accepts the actions of our Rector,” Acting Rector James Conway wrote in the email to the parents.
“The incident does not reflect our long established values or established protocols regarding student-related issues.”
Paul, who works in hospital administration, said she enrolled her son at the school last fall.
“I’ve done my research,” she said.
“I put him where I thought he was in a safe, warm and loving environment where I thought he would learn.”
She said that when Trayson told him she was forced to kneel, she initially gave the school the benefit of the doubt.
But on March 1, she asked Holian about the incident by phone.
The boy’s mother was furious after Holian told her he learned the method of discipline from a Nigerian father from a former student who said it was the ‘African way’ of apologizing. The undated file photo above shows a church on the school grounds in Uniondale, New York
When she wondered if forcing students to kneel was a common practice to endure discipline, Holian acknowledged it wasn’t, Paul said.
Then the director told the mother of the anecdote about the Nigerian family.
“I asked the principal how relevant the story was,” said Paul. The director did not give a clear answer, she said.
The mother said she had the impression that Holian thought the punishment was appropriate simply because Trayson was black.
Paul then met Holian in person on March 4. The Daily News said it had received a recording of the meeting.
“It was a situation where your son was really disrespectful and rude to a teacher in front of the other students,” Holian told Paul.
“The whole idea is for your son to see he can’t talk to women that way.”
Paul said the school has never complained about her son’s behavior in the past, noting that Trayson is a “well-mannered student of the honor roll.”
In the recording, Holian is said to have told Paul that forcing Trayson to kneel was one way to make sure the apology was genuine.
“If I had said to him, ‘Apologize and go back to class’ … it wouldn’t have meant anything,” says Holian.
So it changed the way you say, ‘I apologize.’
Holian is said to have told Paul he was told about the kneeling apology of the Nigerian father of a former student at the school.
“This dad came in and said,” You’re going to apologize to this teacher the African way, and you’re going to kneel and apologize, “the Daily News quotes Holian.
“I want to assure you that St. Martin’s neither approves nor accepts the actions of our Rector,” Acting Rector James Conway wrote to parents
“I’ve never seen that before.”
Holian said that impressed him and that he thought it was an appropriate way to discipline all children, regardless of race.
‘I have six children and four boys. And if one of them is acting really rude and arrogant … I’ll sometimes say, ‘Get on your knees and apologize,’ Holian is said to have said to Paul.
“I talked to your son as I would to my own.”
Holian would have said to Paul, “I’m sorry if you’re upset. It was not a well thought-out situation. ‘
Paul said she has no intention of accepting Holian’s apology.
“He showed no remorse until he realized how it affected my son,” said Paul.
“He’s going to therapy. He is very reserved and humiliated. ‘
She said Trayson is so traumatized that he fears going back to personal instructions and tries to avoid the principal and teacher.
She has reportedly hired a lawyer.
“What else could happen if it no longer occurs in other African-American or Haitian-American students there?” she asked.