Jay Brennan, the principal of Bishop Hendricken High School for 40-years, announced his retirement after administrators of the Catholic all-boys school in Warwick, R.I., were given a video clip that showed him making racist and anti-Semitic slurs.
A short video clip reportedly shows Brennan in his school office saying, “That way, I could take care of the niggers and the kikes,” the Providence Journal reports.
The six- to eight-second video, which was anonymously mailed to a news station and the Rhode Island NAACP, doesn’t show what led to the comment or what was said afterward. but the portion that was shown was damaging enough, because Brennan announced his retirement shortly after the controversy began.
“We recently were made aware of a six-second video-clip from the past with a statement made by Mr. Jay Brennan which includes inflammatory language,” Bishop Hendricken President John Jackson said in a written statement, WPRI-TV reports. “The video clip, which is under review, has no context and Mr. Brennan was being secretly recorded, but clearly the language is inappropriate. We will not tolerate inflammatory language in any context.”
Jackson added that Brennan “has provided unfailing support for the ideals and mission of our school” and “has continually modeled the goal of promoting diversity within the school and during his tenure.”
Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, called the language in the video “unacceptable.”
“I just don’t think a person of that authority should be talking like that. No matter where. No matter when,” Vincent said, the news station reports. “It hurts. It’s painful. It conjures up a past that was horrific for people both in the black and the Jewish community.”
Brennan did not respond to the news station’s email requesting a comment.
Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin told WPRI that he was “stunned and profoundly sorry” to learn about Brennan’s comments, adding that the incident seemed “out of character for a good man.”
“Nonetheless, the administration of the school has taken the incident very seriously and has responded quickly and appropriately,” Tobin said. “Racism is a sin, a grave sin, and expressions of racism will simply not be tolerated by any employee of the Diocese of Providence, its agencies or institutions.”