A Long Island Catholic school headmaster resigned on Wednesday after making a Black student kneel as a form of punishment.
The white administrator named John Holian reportedly told the student that kneeling is the “African way” of apologizing. On Feb. 25, the 11-year-old student was sent to the headmasters office at St. Martin de Porres Marianist after being reprimanded by a teacher for prematurely starting an assignment.
The student told his mother that as punishment, Holian demanded that he kneel in front of the teacher and ask for forgiveness, stating that it was an act he once learned from a Nigerian father.
“I assume because my child was Black, he believed we shared the same cultural beliefs,” the student’s mother, Trisha Paul told Pix 11.
Once word of the incident spread Paul, along with other parents rallied in front of the school last week calling for accountability.
In response to receiving the headmasters resignation, the Uniondale school, released a statement on its website to address the concerns of the surrounding community.
“The leadership of St. Martin de Porres Marianist School continues to review the incident in question to ensure that it is never repeated again in any form,” the statement reads. “It is important to assure students, parents, and faculty that this incident does not reflect our long, established value of respect for the individual or the established protocols regarding student-related issues.”
The statement also revealed that a new headmaster has been hired in Holian’s place. Effective immediately, Shawn Lisa Torres, a licensed clinical social worker and school administrator, will serve as principal.
“I’m ecstatic that that the headmaster has resigned. However, I feel it’s not enough. The teacher that was involved needs to be held accountable as well,” Paul said. She has pulled her son from in-person learning at the school.
Paul and the parents who banded with her, believe that the school needs to hone in on more diversity training for teachers and administrators.