A white headmaster made a black pupil kneel and apologise because that is the ‘African way’, according to the pupil’s mum.
Trisha Paul said her son Trayson, 11, got into trouble at St. Martin de Porres Marianist School, in New York, on February 25 when he started on another task once he’d finished a reading assignment.
The teacher was supposedly upset that he was doing the wrong piece of work and sent him to the headteacher’s office.
Headmaster John Patrick Holian is then said to have told Trayson, who is from Haiti, about a Nigerian dad who had previously made his son kneel and apologise in the ‘African way’. He then allegedly forced Trayson to do the same.
Ms Paul told the US outlet The Daily News: ‘My son was humiliated, hurt, embarrassed, sad and confused.
‘He reads about things happening because of your skin colour. To experience it – he’s just trying to process it in his 11-year-old brain.’
Trayson said it ‘clicked that something was not right with the situation’ when Mr Holian mentioned the African family. He said: ‘I felt there was no relevance at all. Is he generalising that everyone who is black is African?’
Ms Paul said she called Mr Holian on March 1 to confront him about the incident. She claims he repeated his anecdote about the Nigerian dad and ‘did not have a clear response’ when she asked how the story was relevant to her son who is not African.
Three days later, Ms Paul recorded her meeting with the headmaster in person, which The Daily News says it has seen.
Mr Holian told the mum that her son was ‘disrespectful and rude to a teacher in front of other students’. He said: ‘The whole idea is for your son to see he can’t speak to women that way.’
Ms Paul argued that the school had never previously complained about Trayson, who she said is a ‘well-mannered, honor roll student’.
The headteacher said that since his encounter with the Nigerian dad, he sometimes makes his children ‘get on their knees and apologise’. He added: ‘I was speaking to your son as I would my own son.’
But he also said he was ‘sorry’ if Ms Paul was upset, adding: ‘It wasn’t a thought-out situation’.
The $15,000-a-year (£10, 800) school posted on its website on Friday: ‘St. Martin’s neither condones nor accepts the actions of our headmaster. The incident does not reflect our long, established values or the established protocols regarding student related issues.’
Mr Holian has now been suspended while the school investigates.
Ms Paul said her usually outgoing and socially active kid is now ‘really reserved’ and has to see a therapist.
She said: ‘I placed him where I thought he was in a safe, a warm and loving environment where I thought he would learn.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted St. Martin de Porres Marianist School for comment.
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