The ongoing battle over the trashing of a Park Slope school mural championing progressive causes has devolved into a ground war.
Parents at PS 295 in District 15 were startled Monday to see “All Lives Matter Not Just Black” spray-painted on the asphalt in front of their 18th Street building — along with another misspelled scrawl characterizing Black Lives Matter as “Domestic Terroist.”
The street salvos came in the wake of a controversial decision by a pair of co-located principals to remove a student-made mural from their building in July.
PS 295 head Lisa Pagano and New Voices MS chief Frank Giordano junked a piece that included the phrases “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “Your silence will not save you.”
Backers of the project were enraged and have since taken to writing “BLM” and other words and phrases in chalk in front of the school to punctuate their anger.
Former PS 295 parent Jae Gellizeau said Monday’s graffiti offensive heightened already bitter tensions.
“Everyone was horrified,” she said. “People want to know how this took place, how this happened here.”
Gellizeau said the mural celebrated diversity and had overwhelming backing at the school. The principals’ actions, she said, were out of step with the famously progressive community.
A current 295 parent said that both Giordano and Pagano were ideological relics deserving of expulsion.
“These old word types, they don’t have a place here anymore,” she said. ‘We need new leadership.”
Sources said that a limited bloc of parents at both schools — but primarily at New Voices — backed the mural’s removal.
Giordano had argued to parents that the piece was overtly political and inappropriate for the school setting.
“Not everyone has the exact same opinion about everything,” said one New Voices dad. “Even in Park Slope. I think you do have some parents who are certainly concerned about the intense focus on progressive politics. But you’ll never hear them say that. out loud.”
PS 295 has struggled with attendance in recent years, and suffered especially steep losses in the wake of the pandemic.
The school had 466 kids in 2017 and 364 last year, according to DOE figures.
A school source pinned some of the attrition on Pagano’s leadership style and lack of effective communication with parents.
Several parents objected to Giordano citing his Christian faith in defending himself after the controversy exploded and said he was the prime instigator behind the move.
“Everyone in his building is afraid of him,” one PS 295 mom said. “What he says, goes.”
The months-long controversy has compelled local City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who backed the mural, to hold a Town Hall on the matter Wednesday night.
“Every student deserves a safe, welcoming space to learn and in no uncertain terms we condemn the defacing of sidewalks around the school,” said DOE spokesperson Nathaniel Styer. “We are assisting the schools to come to a resolution, convening mediations, and will take disciplinary action as appropriate following the outcome of the investigation.”
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