White Headmaster of New York Catholic School Who Forced Black Student to Kneel and Apologize Resigns

Illustration for article titled White Headmaster of New York Catholic School Who Forced Black Student to Kneel and Apologize Resigns
Photo: panitanphoto (Shutterstock)

You can tell that a lot of white people have not gotten used to the existence of a social environment where their unmitigated whiteness can cost them their jobs. And unmitigated whiteness is exactly what was on full display when John Holian, the now-former headmaster of St. Martin de Porres Marianist School in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island demanded that an 11-year-old Haitian-American student kneel in front of his teacher and apologize allegedly for *checks notes* “working ahead on a written assignment while the rest of the class was still doing a reading assignment,” as we previously reported.

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Holian—who reportedly told Trisha Paul, the mother of the student, Trayson, that he got the idea of kneeling while apologizing from a Nigerian father who made his son apologize the same way—was placed on leave behind the incident and on Wednesday, the school announced that he had resigned.

“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,” St. Martin said in a statement announcing Holian’s resignation, CNN reports. “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 noted that Holian’s position would be filled immediately by an unnamed woman who is the mother of former students and a certified school administrator.

So, fine; the headmassa’...I mean, headmaster of the school lost his job over his “An African told me to do it, so it must be cool” brand of caucasity, and all is right with the world, right? Well, not exactly.

You see, this is the part where I get annoying and echo the sentiments of The Root’s Joe Jurado who pointed out that the teacher—who reportedly ripped up Trayson’s work in front of the classroom—should also be facing disciplinary action behind the incident because she is “just as responsible for what happened to Trayson, as it doesn’t sound like she pushed back against Holian suggesting Trayson kneel.”

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Not long ago, I argued that there are certain teachers who have no business teaching Black students. Now, I made this comment in response to multiple stories that involved white teachers making racist and/or racially insensitive comments to Black students and teachers who thought racist slavery-based activities were appropriate for the classroom, but the idea should also extend to “educators” who think humiliation is an appropriate form of discipline for young students. As a Black person who dealt with teachers like this throughout my entire K-12 experience, I’d be happy to see Trayson’s teacher and others like her get the boot.

This type of racist shit is definitely why we kneel...but not like this.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

DISCUSSION

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FeministOnFire

In addition to that teacher being disciplined for punishing an obviously advanced child for working ahead, she also did not protect the child from another adult, so she should ALSO be fired for failing her primary duty of care to that child.

Also, fuckboi didn’t lose his job; he was allowed to resign with no loss of dignity, all his credentials in place and unquestioned, probably a lot of pension and other benefits in place and can explain away this ‘change of position’ in future interviews. He most definitely was pressured to leave but he was spared the humiliation of being fired (unlike his fomenting of humiliation of a child) and got to walk away with his head up. He didn’t LOSE his job.