A white headmaster of a New York private school has resigned after he was accused of telling an 11-year-old Black student to kneel while apologizing and later describing the practice as "the African way."
Following reports of the incident last week, St. Martin de Porres Marianist school in Uniondale, on New York's Long Island, sent a letter to parents saying headmaster John Holian was on leave while the school investigated the incident.
But in a statement Wednesday, school officials said Holian had resigned.
"St. Martin de Porres Marianist School has accepted the resignation of our former headmaster," the statement said. "The leadership of St. Martin de Porres Marianist School continues to review the incident in question to ensure that it is never repeated again in any form."
"It is important to assure students, parents, and faculty that this incident does not reflect our long, established value of respect for the individual or the established protocols regarding student-related issues."
Trisha Paul told NBC News on Monday that her son, Trayson, 11, and her other child began attending St. Martin de Porres Marianist earlier this school year.
Late last month, when Trayson, an honor student, finished an assignment early and moved on to another one, he was scolded for not following directions, his mother said.
He ended up with his teacher in the office of headmaster John Holian, who instructed Trayson to kneel while he apologized to his teacher for his error, Paul said.
She twice approached Holian about the practice. He told her that he had learned the disciplinary method from a Nigerian father at the school, who told him it was the "African way" of apologizing, Paul said.
"Once he mentioned the story, I realized that maybe he’s generalizing because my son is Black and maybe that’s what he thought the discipline should have been for that behavior, because, simply because my child was Black," Paul told NBC New York. Her son is Haitian-American, she said.
Her son has been deeply affected by the incident, she added.
"He’s been completely quiet, not himself, just trying to take it all in," Paul said. "Most of the time, he doesn’t want to discuss it. His interactions with family members, relatives, friends, anyone around him has changed," Paul said, adding that she will be sending Trayson to therapy.
Paul pulled her children out of in-person classes at the school and hired an attorney. She said that she's not sure she will re-enroll her kids at St. Martin de Porres Marianist next school year.
St. Martin de Porres Marianist School said in its statement that Shawn Lisa Torres, a licensed clinical social worker, certified school administrator, whose sons attend the school, will step in as principal.