Watch CBS News

Parents, Students Upset By Removal Of Controversial Mural Created By Elementary School Students At Brooklyn School

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of parents and students attended a town hall meeting about a controversy surrounding a Brooklyn mural created by elementary school students.

The art was approved by the principal and meant to celebrate diversity, but it was abruptly taken down.

The mural centered around multiracial hands clasped together and featured messages like "Black trans lives matter" and "Your silence will not protect you," a quote by lesbian civil rights activist Audrey Lorde.

A group of fifth grade students at Public School 295, the Studio School of Arts and Culture, designed it last spring during a remote learning project.

Jae Gellizau's daughter was part of it.

"We are an LGBTQ+ family. She felt like she was being seen and her family was being seen and respected," Gellizau told CBS2's Lisa Rozner.

The mural went up in July for the next class of students to see, but days later, it was taken down.

Wednesday, more than 200 parents and students attended a virtual town hall sharing their grief.

Amanda Bissell quit her job at the school over this issue.

"It was stunning. I am still really heartbroken that the kids didn't get to see it," she said.

Bissell says Principal Lisa Pagano originally approved it but wanted to change wording from "Black trans lives matter" to a more generic "Hate has no home here."

The nonprofit leading the project offered to get feedback from students, but another school administrator, Frank Giordano, was not happy.

"The mural was deemed not inclusive, unwelcoming and divisive," school employee Joan Radigan said.

"No one's taken accountability of any of this, and I would like to see new leadership that's more reflective of the community," Gellizau said.

"I still don't fully understand why it was taken down," one student said.

This week, in peaceful protest, students and parents etched the mural's messages in chalk on the school's sidewalk only to find "All lives matter" written under it and "domestic terrorist" scrawled under "BLM."

Some parents on Wednesday called for the mural to be reinstated along with a plaque that explains why it was removed in the first place.

Giordano hung up on CBS2, and Pagano, as well as the superintendent, did not return emails seeking comment.

A Department of Education spokesperson apologized to the students and said it's working on a resolution and "will take disciplinary action as appropriate" following an investigation.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.