May 2023 Church & State Magazine - May 2023

Fla. Charter School Principal Forced Out After Flap Over ‘David’ Statue


The principal of a public charter school in Tallahassee that bills itself as a “classical academy” was forced out of her job after a few parents complained that their sixth-grade children had seen an image of Michelangelo’s famous “David” statue in class. 

The Tallahassee Classical School board demanded that Principal Hope Carrasquilla either resign or be fired. She chose to resign. 

Media outlets reported that three parents complained that their children were exposed to nudity without the parents receiving prior notification. One even went so far as to call the statue, which is widely recognized as one of the Western world’s greatest works of art, “pornographic.” 

Carrasquilla said the school’s normal process is to send letters about works of art like this, but in this case, someone failed to follow through and the letters didn’t go out. Carrasquilla apologized, but that wasn’t good enough. 

She criticized allowing parents to make decisions that properly belong to teachers.

“What doesn’t work is when you have parents who are trying to say, ‘This is your curriculum, this is what you’re supposed to be teaching,’” Carrasquilla told NPR. 

The statue, which depicts the biblical figure of David, was created by Michelangelo between the years 1501-04 when the artist was in his 20s. It is 17 feet tall and is displayed at the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze in Florence, Italy. 

Michelangelo’s ‘David’: Pornographic? (Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

Tallahassee Classical School is a public charter school affiliated with Hillsdale College, a fundamentalist institution in Michigan. Barney Bishop, president of the Tallahassee Classical School board, has boasted that parents who send their kids there are against “woke indoctrination” and added, “We don’t use pronouns.” 

The school’s ties to Hillsdale have apparently been severed. On March 30, the college issued a press release that read, “Hillsdale College is no longer affiliated with Tallahassee Classical School. Tallahassee Classical previously held a license to use Hillsdale’s curricular materials. That license has been revoked and will expire at the end of the school year.”

The release went on to say, “To set the record straight: This drama around teaching Michelangelo’s ‘David’ sculpture, one of the most important works of art in existence, has become a distraction from, and a parody of, the actual aims of classical education. Of course, Hillsdale’s K-12 art curriculum includes Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and other works of art that depict the human form.”

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