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Principal Fired Over Parent Complaints on Lesson Showing Michelangelo’s “David”

The Florida public charter school that forced former principal Hope Carrasquilla to resign has far right connections.

The face of Michelangelo's "David" sculpture.

A principal of a Florida charter school was forced to resign from her position after parents of children in a classical art class complained about their kids being exposed to one of the most famous pieces of classical art, Michelangelo’s “David.”

The sculpture, which depicts the biblical character in the nude, was part of a sixth-grade class’s art lesson. Ordinarily, a letter is sent to parents warning them of the lesson’s content before it is given, but Hope Carrasquilla, the school’s former principal, said that a “series of miscommunications” led to the letter not reaching parents in time.

After just three parents complained about the lesson — including one who described the masterpiece as “pornographic” — the Tallahassee Classical School board of directors called for Carrasquilla’s resignation, which she submitted earlier this week.

Carrasquilla is the third principal the school has had since its opening in 2020. Other parents and faculty members have confided in her that they were dismayed that she was forced out of the position, but Barney Bishop, who serves as head of the charter school’s board, claimed that “parental rights are supreme.”

“That means protecting the interests of all parents, whether it’s one, 10, 20 or 50,” he told HuffPost.

The school has more than 530 students, with 56 students enrolled in the sixth grade. Assuming that only three parents took issue with the curriculum that led to Carrasquilla stepping down, just 5.3 percent of sixth-grade parents (and around just half of 1 percent of all the parents of students in the school) lodged complaints about the lesson.

Parental complaints to schools have become a mainstay in Florida, thanks to a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last year that allows parents and guardians to issue complaints or even file lawsuits against schools for curriculums they disagree with. Charter schools are generally exempt from the provisions of that law, but Tallahassee Classical School is known to have far right connections.

The public charter school is one of many across the nation that is affiliated with Hillsdale College, a far right Christian school system that has pledged to fight what they claim are “leftist” and “distorted” teachings of American history. The Michigan-based institution opposes factual teachings of history that focus on marginalized groups, including the 1619 Project, which explores the history of slavery, racism and the oppression of Black Americans in the U.S.

Indeed, Hillsdale College helped formulate former President Donald Trump’s “1776 Report,” which many respected historians have condemned for its nationalist themes and for whitewashing wrongs that have taken place in U.S. history.

“It does not take long to read this report as the last great lie from a Trump administration of great lies,” Black and antiracist historian Ibram X. Kendi wrote of the report when it was released in early 2021, adding that it depicts Black people as having “been given ‘privileges’ and ‘preferential treatment’ in nearly every sector of society, which is news to Black people.”

Hillsdale College has connections to other far right figures, including several members of the Trump administration, such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and former Vice President Mike Pence, all of whom have given commencement speeches at the institution’s graduation ceremonies. Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist who sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results (and who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), worked for Hillsdale as the associate director of the college’s Washington D.C. operations for two years.

“Hillsdale serves as a laboratory and political advocate for fascistic ideas,” a report from The World Socialist Web Site noted last summer. “These include: ‘herd immunity’ in the COVID pandemic, massive US military rearmament and preparations for war with China, anti-immigrant xenophobia, abolition of the separation of church and state, the claim that diversity is ‘unpatriotic’ and threatens ‘national unity,’ opposition to ‘radical gender ideology,’ claims that global warming is a hoax, and the abolition of public education through charter schools and vouchers.”

As a publicly funded charter school in Florida, Tallahassee Classical School receives taxpayer funding to operate.