Two Brooklyn public school principals and a district administrator just proved that stupidity and incompetence are not just the province of Texas and Florida governors.

A group of fifth-graders from PS 295K in Sunset Park Brooklyn worked with a team from the arts project Groundswell to design and create a mural above the entrance to the school cafeteria. It featured images of multi-racial hands clasped together and Black girls wearing golden crowns. Signs on the mural supported Black Lives Matter and included the message “Black Trans Lives Matter.” Prominent in the mural were a quote from feminist author and poet Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you,” and the question “What else is possible?” It was installed in early July.

The principal of PS 295K and the principal of New Voices Middle School, the two schools share a building, removed the student mural with support from the District 15 Superintendent five days after it was hung up. According to the PS 295K principal, the district superintendent wanted the mural removed because it was not “welcoming” or “inclusive.” The PS 295 principal reviewed the mural design before it was created and originally questioned the reference to Black Trans rights, but finally gave her approval to the mural if it included references to other social justice causes, which it did. The Daily News reported that the middle school principal was overheard by a staff member saying “I look at that (the Lorde quote) and I feel attacked . . . if that doesn’t come down, I’m painting over that mural.”

The decision to remove the mural was not discussed with students, staff, or parents. An outraged student, Jasmine Gellizeau-Ip, age 11, told the Daily News that she was “proud of showing how I felt about that world and putting it into a piece of paper for everyone in my school to see. I thought I knew my principal and she just tore it down . . . I felt really disappointed because I put a lot of work and love into it.” Amanda Bissell, the PS 295 parent coordinator involved in the mural project resigned after school officials destroyed the mural. She explained, “this is not an acceptable decision, I can’t represent this to parents.”

Local City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who arranged the city funding for the mural project, requested a meeting with the two principals but they refused to meet with him.

Principal #1 questioned and then approved the mural.

Principal # 2 claimed he was frightened by a quote by a poet who died in 2017.

District Superintendent either ordered or agreed to the removal.

None of the three thought they had to discuss the removal with students who created the mural, staff or parents.

Dare I say the word “RACISM.” You don’t need Critical Race Theory to understand what they did.

All three should be replaced. If there were an election, I am pretty sure they would be voted out of office.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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