The white headmaster of a Catholic school in New York has been placed on leave after a black child’s mother says he forced her son to kneel while apologizing to him.
St. Martin de Porres Marianist school headmaster John Holian reportedly made 11-year-old Trayson Paul get on his knees and say what he did wrong after an English teacher found him working on an assignment too early, according to the Washington Post. After the teacher ripped up the paper and sent him to the office, Holian reportedly claimed that he had the boy kneel since the father of a Nigerian student once showed him the “African way” of apologizing.
Paul, who is not Nigerian, was punished unfairly due to his race, according to his mother Trisha Paul.
“This was a racist act,” Trisha told The Post. “In other schools when they are disciplined, it’s detention, it’s extra homework, there are other ways to discipline a child. But degrading a child, humiliating them off the basis of generalizing him because he’s just a Black boy, makes no sense.”
Holian later told TMZ he did not want to comment on the situation.
“I want to assure you that St. Martin’s neither condones nor accepts the actions of our headmaster,” acting headmaster James Conway wrote in the email to parents. “The incident does not reflect our long, established values or the established protocols regarding student-related issues.”
A local newspaper said that after it made inquiries about the forced kneeling, school officials sent an email to parents saying Holian had been placed on temporary leave pending an investigation.