The Archdiocese of New York has fired the principal of a mostly black and Hispanic elementary school in the Bronx for writings it deemed racist.
School officials reviewed Frank Borzellieri's books and columns and found that he espoused white supremacist views that were at odds with the church's mission and values, archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling told The Associated Press. The firing came after the New York Daily News reported that Borzellieri had written that expanding black and Hispanic populations will create a "New Dark Age" and that he had ties to a white supremacist publication.
Borzellieri and his book publisher, Cultural Studies Press, didn't respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday from the AP. Reached by phone, a woman who said she was Borzellieri's mother declined to comment.
He had been principal of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School for two years. But he was no stranger to controversy. Borzellieri had been a loud and divisive member of a Queens school board in the 1990s, a stint that inspired one of his books, "Lynched: A Conservative's Life on a New York City School Board." He made headlines in 1994 for trying to ban a biography of Martin Luther King Jr.
At the time, he told Newsday that the civil rights leader was a "hypocritical adulterer" and "a leftist hoodlum with significant Communist ties."
A blurb about "Lynched" on the publisher's website says that Borzellieri was "the only voice trying to stop the grotesque homosexual infiltration" of the school district.
He had also written columns for local newspapers. He was fired then re-instated from The Queens Ledger in 2000 after comparing a Board of Education representative to Adolf Hitler, The New York Times reported that year. Zwilling said he was not publishing a column while he was principal at Mt. Carmel.
In a lengthy statement posted on the school's website, Father Eric Rapaglia, the pastor of Mt. Carmel, apologized for what he called a "mistake in judgment." He said neither he nor a search committee of parents and teachers knew about Borzellieri's political writings when they hired him.
"In hindsight, I should not have hired Mr. Borzellieri," he wrote.
Rapaglia said that when Borzellieri applied for the job in 2009, he had good credentials, including experience working in two other mostly minority schools. No one had complained about him to the archdiocese, Rapaglia said.
Rapaglia took issue with a quote recently attributed to him in the Daily News in which he called some of Borzellieri's views "valuable and logical and reasonable." He said his words were taken out of context and he was talking about Borzellieri's writings on topics other than race.
Zwilling said that Borzellieri's views on diversity, immigration and the abilities of minorities were contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the mission of its schools. He said Borzellieri was given an opportunity to speak to officials about the writings before his dismissal but that the school "had basis for terminating him based on his contract."
The archdiocese hopes to have a new principal in place soon.