New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – The headmaster of a Long Island Catholic school who forced an 11-year-old Black student to kneel while apologizing to a teacher has resigned, the Daily News learned Wednesday.
Officials from the St Martin de Porres Marianist school in Uniondale, where John Holian worked, said in a letter Wednesday to parents that the administration had “accepted the resignation of our former headmaster.”
Holian’s punishment of the sixth-grade boy — which the headmaster later said he’d learned from a Nigerian father who told him it was an “African way” to apologize — sparked outrage and accusations of racism from parents and officials across the state and country.
He was put on leave by the school on Saturday, after The News contacted the administrators to ask about Holian’s behavior.
A protest was planned for Wednesday afternoon outside the school, and school officials had already canceled in-person classes Wednesday in preparation.
“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,” said the letter to parents, sent ahead of the planned rally. “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.”
Trisha Paul, the mother of the boy who was forced to kneel, said the announcement of Holian’s resignation seemed more like a face-saving move than a genuine effort to address the harm from the incident.
“Honestly, I’m still awaiting an apology from the school,” said Paul, who also has another child who attends St. Martin. “I honestly feel like it’s to uphold their image, it’s not to acknowledge what was done and correct it.”
Holian didn’t comment directly on his use of the punishment when contacted by The News, but previously told Paul he believed it would help the sixth-grader offer a more meaningful apology, and said he sometimes uses the approach with his own children.
School officials said “beginning immediately, Mrs. Shawn Lisa Torres will serve as the Principal of St Martin de Porres Marianist School. Mrs Torres, a licensed clinical social worker, and a certified school administrator is an outstanding educator to lead St. Martin’s going forward. Mrs. Torres has a long relationship with Marianist education through her sons’ attendance at St. Martin’s.”
- Top Feature Photo: Headmaster John Patrick Holian is seen here at his residence in Freeport, Long Island on Saturday March 20, 2021 – Theodore Parisienne