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Long Island headmaster resigns after mother says he made her Black son kneel during apology

Headmaster on leave after making student kneel
Headmaster on leave after making student knee... 02:23

The headmaster at a Catholic school on Long Island has resigned after a parent claimed he made her Black, 11-year-old son kneel while apologizing to his White teacher, CBS New York reported. The boy's mother said the incident occurred in February at St. Martin de Porres Marianist in Uniondale, New York.

"He's hurt, humiliated, sad disappointed. He's just going through a lot of the emotions now," Trisha Paul told CBS New York. She said she has pulled her son out of in-person learning for now.

Paul said her son was sent to headmaster John Holian's office after doing the wrong assignment in class. She said Holian told the boy to kneel while he apologized to his White, female teacher.

"He stated that he should apologize the African or the Nigerian way, which was to kneel down," Paul said.

When Paul asked Holian about the incident, she said, he told her the idea came from a former student whose family was Nigerian. 

"There was an African father who came in and told their child to apologize the Nigerian or African way. That's when it dawned upon me that maybe he generalized my child because he was Black," Paul said.

"My son is not African," said Paul, who is Haitian American. "You generalize everyone because they're Black? You just assume that my child is Nigerian?"

"It was done simply because he was Black," she added.

She said she asked Holian if it was common to ask the students to kneel while apologizing, and he said it was the first time he had asked a student to do so. She said Holian apologized during a meeting.

In a letter sent to parents, the school said it did not condone Holian's actions, CBS New York reports. The school is reviewing the incident to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Holian was placed on administrative leave prior to his resignation. Paul has called on the rest of the school's personnel to receive racial sensitivity training and develop a uniform standard of discipline.

"We need to make sure that there isn't anyone else being mistreated based on the color of their skin, their race," Paul said.

Peter Martinez contributed to this report.

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