Did This Florida School Go Too Far When It Fired a Principal Over ‘Pornographic’ Material?

(AP Photo/High Museum of Art)

Here’s an interesting one for you.

Amid nationwide debate over what is considered appropriate material to present to children in K-12 schools, a Florida principal lost her job after parents complained about some allegedly problematic content in an art lesson.

Hope Carrasquilla, the former principal of Tallahassee Classical School in Leon County, was forced to resign from her position during an emergency board meeting on Monday after a parent complained about a Renaissance art lesson. She had only been in her role for less than a year.

Carrasquilla expressed her disappointment with the outcome, stating that “It saddens me that my time here had to end this way,” during an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.

According to the former principal, the school’s board chair, Barney Bishop, informed her last week that she would have to resign or be fired. She believes that the complaints about the art lesson on the Renaissance period were the reason for the ultimatum.

Bishop confirmed that he gave Carrasquilla the ultimatum but could not provide further details regarding the reason for her resignation, citing advice from the school’s employment lawyer.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported:

Tallahassee Classical, a Hillsdale College curriculum school, is required to teach about Renaissance art in sixth grade.

But three parents complained that the lesson’s content, which included learning about Michelangelo’s sculpture, “David” and the “Creation of Adam” fresco painting, upset their children.

Michelangelo was an Italian artist, sculptor, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance period. He was born in 1475 in Caprese, Italy, and died in Rome in 1564 at the age of 88. Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest artists of all time, and his works include the sculpture of David, the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the design of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

According to Carrasquilla, two out of three parents wished they had been notified of a Renaissance art lesson beforehand, while one parent complained that the lesson was pornographic. The former principal said that a letter notifying parents of the lesson should have been sent, but a breakdown in communication between herself, the director of operations, and the art teacher led to an administrative oversight and parents were not informed.

Bishop noted that a new rule passed by the board last month will require parental notification two weeks in advance of any curriculum that is potentially controversial. Parents will also be able to review the curriculum and related materials, and a reminder notice will be sent one week in advance.

However, some parents have been frustrated with what they see as a lack of communication from the school and constant teacher turnover. Carrie Boyd, who has children in third and seventh grades at the school, said Carrasquilla’s resignation came as a shock to her and other parents. Boyd also mentioned noticing a “paradigm shift” at the school, with communication from administrators taking on a non-secular tone.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican state lawmakers are leading a move to ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity for grades four through 12. The proposal, which does not need legislative approval, will be voted on by the state Board of Education next month. Bishop emphasized the importance of parental rights and protecting the interests of all parents, whether it’s one,10, 20, or 50.

This is a weird one, isn’t it?

I do not disagree with those in Florida working to ensure that educators and school staff are not indoctrinating young children by inculcating them with far leftist ideology. I can appreciate the effort to protect parental rights, especially at a time when the progressive left is diligently trying to have state-run schools usurp the role of parents in raising their children.

But, I think this one goes a bit too far.

Michaelangelo’s “David” is a sculpture of a naked man. But the piece is nowhere close to being sexual in nature. It is one of the most-recognized pieces of art in the world. From where I sit, there is no reason to think that a lesson featuring this image is an attempt to sexualize or indoctrinate children. Indeed, I had seen statues like that even before I reached the sixth grade. To me, this seems like a case in which people who rightly fear the push to sexualize children are overreacting.

Moreover, for this to cost Carrasquilla her job seems a bit harsh, unless there were other issues contributing to this decision. But it is worth pointing out that the fact that one of the parents was surprised at her firing seems to indicate that she was not performing in a way that would warrant this move.

So far, this is just one story indicating how the anti-woke efforts in schools might claim unnecessary casualties. I’m hoping that this doesn’t become more of a trend, in which conservatives and libertarians start becoming like the left in overreacting when an educator or administrator does something that would warrant a conversation instead of punitive action. I suppose we will see how this situation plays out.

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