Black student forced to kneel while apologizing to white headmaster

'He’s going to therapy. He’s been very reserved and humiliated,' said the student's mother, Trisha Paul

Trayson Paul, an 11-year-old student at the St. Martin de Porres Marianist school in Uniondale, NY was admonished for working on the wrong assignment in English class and sent to Headmaster John Holian‘s office, as reported by TMZ.

Holian, claiming he’d been informed by the father of a Nigerian student at the $15,000-per-year school that it’s the “African way of apologizing,” ordered Paul to get on his knees and confess his misdeed, reported TMZ.

Paul’s mother, Trisha, said that the February 25th incident left her son feeling humiliated. Trayson is Haitian-American and according to the Daily News, his mother said he’s typically a charismatic extrovert, but is now quite shaken and really reserved.

“Once he started mentioning this African family, that’s when it just clicked. Like, this is not normal procedure. I felt there was no relevance at all. Is he generalizing that everyone who is Black is African? That’s when I realized something is not right with this situation,” she said.

“He reads about things happening because of your skin color. To experience it… he’s just trying to process it in his 11-year-old brain,” she continued.

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Trisha Paul said she was extremely confused by the incident because she researched the school before enrolling her son. “I placed him where I thought he was in a safe, a warm and loving environment where I thought he would learn.”

Trisha had a call with Holian on March 1, where she asked him how the story about African tradition was relevant. He reportedly skirted the issue. After a meeting on March 4, the transcript of which was obtained by The Daily News, Trisha realized she wanted to further pursue the issue with hired council.

Holian, who still considers kneeling a formidable way to discipline children per the Daily News, said to Trisha “It was a situation where your son was really disrespectful and rude to a teacher in front of the other students.” He continued, “The whole idea is for your son to see he can’t speak to women that way.”

Trisha, reluctant to accept the headmaster’s explanation, admitting to The News that she’d never received complaints about her otherwise well-behaved honor-student son, said of Holian “He showed no remorse until he realized how it’s impacted my son.”

“He’s going to therapy. He’s been very reserved and humiliated,” she said. She also said he has been steering clear of the headmaster and avoiding direct communication with his teachers.

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Holian, who declined to comment, has been temporarily relived from his duties as headmaster while the school conducts an investigation, according to TMZ. The Daily News also reported that the school sent a statement to parents on Friday, following the inquires leading up the investigation.

Acting headmaster James Conway wrote in the letter, “I want to assure you that St. Martin’s neither condones nor accepts the actions of our headmaster,” per an email obtained by The Daily News. “The incident does not reflect our long, established values or the established protocols regarding student related issues.”

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