UNIONDALE, NY (CBSNewYork) – A mother on Long Island said her Black son was forced to kneel by her white school administrator when apologizing to a teacher – an act she calls racism.
“He was hurt, insulted, sadly disappointed. He’s just going through a lot of emotions right now, ”Trisha Paul told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon on Sunday.
Paul said her 11-year-old son suffered trauma after an incident at his school, St. Paul. Martin de Porres Marianist, last month.
She said after her son was sent to principal John Holian’s office for doing wrong class assignments, Holian told him to kneel while apologizing to his white female teacher.
Paul said: “He said he should apologize to the Africans or the Nigerians, it was kneeling.
Then the boy told his mother, and horrified, Paul asked the principal about the incident.
She said Holian told her that he learned about the ritual from a Nigerian family whose children had gone to school.
“An African father came in and told their child to apologize in Nigerian or African way. That’s when I realized that maybe he was generalizing my baby because he was Black, ”Paul said.
The Haitian-American mother said she asked the principal if the act was standard behavior and was told this was the first time a student has been asked to kneel when apologizing.
“My son is not African. Do you generalize everyone because they are black? Do you think my baby is Nigerian? Paul said.
During a meeting with the principal, Paul said Holian apologized and told the family that his actions were simply disciplinary in nature.
Principal Holian did not respond to CBS2’s request for comment. The school forwarded to CBS2 a letter they sent to parents saying they did not tolerate Holian’s actions, adding that they were inconsistent with the school’s policies.
Currently, the principal has resigned while the school investigates the matter.
Paul said while taking leave was a step in the right direction, she wanted Holian to resign, leaving staff trained in racial sensitivities and the child disciplinary measures outlined in the school’s code of conduct .
“We need to make sure no one else is being abused because of their race or color,” said Paul.
Paul said her son is still confused by what happened. Currently, she pulled him out of face-to-face learning.
CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report