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White Headmaster Told Black Boy to Kneel Like an 'African'

John Holian placed on leave at Long Island Catholic school
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2021 9:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – The headmaster of a Catholic school on Long Island has been placed on leave after reportedly telling a Black boy to kneel in apology, calling it "the African way." Trisha Paul's 11-year-old son, Trayson, told her that he'd been taken to the headmaster's office at St. Martin de Porres Marianist School in Uniondale, where John Holian forced him to kneel before his teacher in apology, on Feb. 25 for working on an assignment during reading time. When Paul confronted Holian, who's white, she says he told her about a Nigerian father who did a similar thing with his son, a former student, per the Washington Post. He referred to the kneeling apology as "the African way" and "Nigerian way," Paul tells the outlet. But "my child is not Nigerian," adds Paul, who is of Haitian descent. "You're assuming that because my child is Black that he must kneel down as well."

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Paul says Holian admitted that he asked Trayson to kneel, saying "if he apologized standing up it wouldn't have been genuine." She adds he "wasn’t remorseful or apologetic" and seemed not to understand her dismay. He was placed on leave after Paul spoke to local media. "I want to assure you that St. Martin’s neither condones nor accepts the actions of our headmaster," James Conway, the acting headmaster, wrote in an email to parents last week, adding that an internal review has been launched. But Paul is hoping Holian will step down over the "racist act." "I do believe that had my son not told me about this incident, it would have been brushed under the rug," she tells CNN. "I want my child to be that person who makes a difference." Paul, who pays $15,000 annual tuition to the school, adds her "hurt and humiliated" sixth grader is now attending remote classes, per the Post. (Read more New York stories.)

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