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There is no savior: Brooklyn Bishop lets pastor fire principal in Catholic school flap

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Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will not step in and save the job of a beloved Catholic elementary principal — despite an outpouring of support from parents at the Park Slope school.

Rev. Kieran Harrington, spokesperson for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said last week that DiMarzio has no plans to reverse a decision by the St. Saviour’s pastor, Rev. Daniel Murphy, to fire Principal James Flanagan after 25 years at the Eighth Avenue school.

“We’ve heard the protestors, but ultimately, the decision rests with the pastor,” Harrington said. “He’s the one who hires and fires.”

Harrington’s comments came after weeks of regular protests by parents, both at the school and at the diocese office in Fort Greene.

“We’re the ones who support Catholic education, but we’re the ones being rolled over,” Cathy Hunt, a mother of two, told The Brooklyn Paper recently. Hunt, who has organized marches in support of Flanagan, added, “You don’t just pull out the leadership when a school is so successful.”

Murphy is on vacation and unavailable for comment, according to a St. Saviour’s staffer.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Soledad from Bay Ridge says:
Since all these protests have been ignored, these parents need to vote with their feet..walk away from the school now if you are not happy with Father Murphy's choices (which may be right or wrong, but they are his choices to make). The lack of tuition flowing in will get more attention.
June 22, 2009, 10:10 am
J from Park Slope says:
It would be a mistake to assume everyone at St. Saviour's loved Mr. Flanagan just because a couple dozen people are protesting. Many other parishioners believe it was time for a change at the school and we support our pastor's decision.
June 22, 2009, 1:30 pm
Harry from Bay Ridge says:
Soledad from Bay Ridge says: "Since all these protests have been ignored, these parents need to vote with their feet ... The lack of tuition flowing in will get more attention."

If enough tuition un-flows, the school will end up on death row (which I assume isn't what you really want).
Also, parents are being ignored because in Catholic parishes, the pastor has the ONLY "vote." So you can face the same/similar dilemma in another parish school.
June 22, 2009, 1:58 pm
Karen from Park Slope says:
Fr. Murphy won't tell the parents why Flanagan has been fired or make any effort to reach out to those who don't agree and explain why Flanagan doesn't fit his new vision of education, whatever that is. At this point it's 80% of the people at the school who want to keep Flanagan, not a small group - and that's partly because Fr. Murphy refuses to communicate anything solid AND HAS GONE ON VACATION while his parish is ripped apart by this issue . The real reason Flanagan is fired, is because he and Murphy don't get along. It's got nothing to do with education. Not one mention of any solid education reason has been given. One guy has the power to fire the other and he's done it...., leaving all the kids, parents and parishioners out in the cold and the Diocese is just letting the Pastor get on with it. It's a real eye opener. Not many parents realized that the Pastor is in charge of the school and can hire and fire anyone he likes at will. The Superintendent of Schools has no say. Does 26 years of service as a principal and a great educational record mean nothing. It's not as if the Catholic schools are going gangbusters, you'd think they'd want to save one of the highest performing schools in Brooklyn, the one they put on the bus ads. They also want to raise the tuition. That's for sure. Murphy didn't follow procedures, he didn't 'review' Flanagan, he just fired him because he felt like it. Spiritual leader? Comforter and protector? Compassionate voice? I don't see or hear anything that would make me trust Fr. Murphy's future decisions, given how little respect he has for those who don't understand his decision and his unwillingness to make himself available to discuss the education issue openly with the parents. I hope he's enjoying his vacation while the parents are bewildered and getting angrier.
June 22, 2009, 2:50 pm
Cindy from Windsor Terrace says:
If it were just a few parents, I doubt we'd be getting this much coverage. We have the majority of parents fighting to have our principal's contract renewed and our numbers are growing each day as more information becomes available. Alumni and Parishioners are joining the cause as well, as no one likes to allow injustices to occur under their watch.

http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.typepad.com/only_the_blog_knows_brook/2009/06/130-participate-in-protest-at-saint-saviours.html

http://stsaviours.wordpress.com/
June 22, 2009, 6:57 pm
JK from Slope says:
To Karen from Park Slope:
Flanagan said that he was fired b/c of the view that he couldn't implement the diocese's Preserving the Vision plan.
The bishop backs the pastor, and Flanagan was given a hearing, but lost - which mean: this isn't just about personalities or arbitrariness, Flanagan's popularity is irrelevant, and "vot[ing] with our feet" might be counterproductive .. especially considering the Vision plan's focus on centralized schools, academies, and joint operations, rather than on old-fashioned very-local schools.
On the other hand ... 25 years is a *long* time, and popularity isn't everything. Sometimes you really *need* a new face and set of skills, and you don't *know* you need it, b/c you're too comfortable w/the status quo, and don't really 'see' the competition or need for change.
June 22, 2009, 8:07 pm
Karen from Park Slope says:
JK - you're wrong. Flanagan won the arbitration, Flanagan has never said that he couldn't implement the plan, in fact the opposite is true. He has stated how was has and was implementing the plan in his letter here

www.stsaviours.wordpress.com

He has taken children who were displaced by school closings AND instituted new programs in Language Arts, Technology, Art and Science. Please read his letter to learn how the the pastor refused to back down and the bishop backs the pastor. Flanagan has not been fired because of the view he couldn't implement the vision. The vision has not been stated. The pastor is asking parents to buy into a new plan and a new principal without stating the whats and whys of the education plan. The pastor has fired the principal because he can, and because of a long list of petty 'not getting along' reasons listed in a document that is not publicly available.
June 22, 2009, 10:02 pm
Peter from Brooklyn says:
To the naysayers,

Father Murphy is the Pastor of Saint Saviour, Spiritual Leader of St. Saviour and our community. But for all of his ardent supporters, the question I have for you is where is Father Murphy? Father Murphy has chosen to sequester himself away from the community to ignore the plight of the parents of Saint Saviour. On the night of May 21st, 2009, 100 concerned parents were in attendance to understand the reason for Father Murphy’s decision not to renew Principal Flanagan. None ever came.

Leaders should stand up and proclaim their wisdom, share the vision, explain the vision, certainly not hide or go on vacation. Father Murphy, is the reason why you have not proclaimed a vision is because you don’t have one, or is your Preserving the Vision colored Green?

Let us not forget why people are protesting - they are doing so in support of our children!
June 23, 2009, 1:14 am
JK from Slope says:
Karen from Park Slope says: "Flanagan won the arbitration, Flanagan has never said that he couldn't implement the plan, in fact the opposite is true. He has stated how was has and was implementing the plan in his letter here"

Of course I read Flanagan's letter.
-- He "won" on *procedural* grounds (that he hadn't gotten the five meetings required by the contract), but Fr Murphy didn't reinstate him.
Since pastors call all the shots, that procedure is an empty protection anyway: Conceivably, Fr Murphy then could've just given him the five meetings and re-fired him.
-- I didn't say *Flanagan* said he couldn't implement the plan. I cited "the view that" he couldn't -- which is right out of Flanagan's letter: He cites criticism that he "wasn't the type" who could do it (though he said he could).
June 23, 2009, 2:09 pm
JK from Slope says:
Karen from Park Slope also said: "Flanagan has not been fired because of the view he couldn't implement the vision. The vision has not been stated. The pastor is asking parents to buy into a new plan and a new principal without stating the whats and whys of the education plan."

There *is* a plan -- for the diocese. It's at
www.csptv.org
with details at www.csptv.org/faqs.html
If you read it (and all those interested should), it's clear that the diocese is moving towards centralized broad-appeal, non-'geographic' schools, academies, and joint-op. agreements, rather than the familiar cozy-neighborhood-school model.

Any arguments should be tailored to that -- and show why parents' wishes would *facilitate* it, and why someone who's been there 25 years can see things afresh and implement a future-forward plan (and not get stuck or side with 'resisters' along the way, albeit inadvertently).
It does no good to argue based on Flanagan's years of service or local popularity ... or the fact that parents don't like the Catholic Church's administrative model, or didn't know the pastor was in charge. Religious institutions can do what they want, and you can't do much about it.
June 23, 2009, 2:41 pm
Karen from Park Slope says:
JK - so we're both clear that Flanagan won the arbitration. You posted previously that Flanagan lost. That's misinformation and you knew that because you stated above that 'of course I read Flanagan's letter'. So on reading it, you decided to post misinformation in a public forum.

As far as 'Preserving the Vision' is concerned, in its review of the four schools in our cluster, the Preserving the Vision Committee commended St. Saviour for its strength and urged it to keep growing stronger. Just so we don't confuse anyone reading these inaccurate posts, lets post Flanagan's Letter in its entirety here :

St. Saviour School
June 17, 2009,
Dear Parents,
As most of you are aware, Fr. Murphy has refused to renew my contract for next year. I am constrained from providing detailed information on this issue, as this matter is in mediation. With the school year coming to a close, however, I wanted to thank you for your support & provide you some information about the situation.
Fr. Murphy’s informing me on April 3, 2009 that he would not be renewing my contract came as a complete shock. Last April he told me that we had had the best year yet working together. My contract required five formal meetings to discuss my performance and major school issues. No meetings occurred. This is why when I appealed the non-renewal, the Office of the Superintendent ruled in my favor. The ruling in my favor, however, did not overturn Father’s decision. This is why on May 13, 2009 I requested Diocesan mediation.
Fr. Murphy has stated that I am not the type of principal who can implement the changes called for in the Preserving the Vision Process. In its review of the four schools of our cluster, the Preserving the Vision Committee commended St. Saviour for its strength and urged it to keep growing stronger.
I have taken part extensively in the meetings of the Park Slope Advisory Board for the four schools of our cluster. The Board developed the marketing campaign for the cluster that resulted in ads for our schools on the sides of 15 Park Slope buses.
Over the last several years, I have instituted the program where several of our eighth grade students study French I at St. Saviour High School; worked with the Friends of St. Saviour to guide the library renovation (which begins Monday, June 22nd); hosted two very successful Art Fairs and several seasonal concerts; restarted the concept of a Science Fair & oversaw the installation & implementation of Smart Board technology & LCD/Laptop instruction. Not bad for a person supposedly opposed to change.
Father Murphy’s major criticism of me concerns Tuition. He wanted at one point to charge the actual per pupil cost as tuition. This would have meant families of two would be paying $10,000 in tuition next year. I stressed to Fr. Murphy and the School Finance Committee that such an approach would seriously hurt our enrollment. Ultimately the Tuition was raised $300 per child. Through fundraising & donations, we were able to raise sufficient funds to bridge the gap between actual tuition & per pupil cost without financial assistance from the parish. Father Murphy considered my advocacy on behalf of the school as my being insubordinate.
Your phenomenal support has kept me going during this very difficult time. I have been truly blessed to have served as principal at St. Saviour’s for 25 years. I look forward to returning as your principal in September. I thank God for you and your wonderful children & our faculty.

Sincerely,
Jim Flanagan
June 23, 2009, 2:44 pm
James from Park Slope says:
JK....do your children attend Saint Saviour's ? I find it amazing that most of the parishioners who allegedly support Father Murphy's decision don't have any children in the School and have no interest in sending their children to the School. If it was only Mr. Flanagan holding you back, why haven't you registered your children for September since your Pastor has already made his decision ? Put simply, unless you have children in the School and have witnessed Father Murphy's complete lack of interaction with the School (he admittedly has not been in the School for over two years), you have no basis or understanding to offer a valid and founded opinion as whether Father Murphy's decision was right.
June 24, 2009, 6:34 pm
Holy Cow! from Windsor Terrace says:
JK from Slope needs to do his homework. Bishop DiMarzio has written extensively about how the Catholic School System in Brooklyn is switching from Parish based schools to Academies. St. Saviour will be one of the last to switch over based on its great record (we're slated for 2013). The newly established academies will be SEPARATE from its parent parish, and will be governed by dedicated and qualified laity and not the pastors. (see The Tablet, May 16, 2009, Vol. 102, Number 7). As far as the Diocese of Brooklyn goes, we're right on target, thanks to our steward, Principal James Flanagan. What would have been a seamless and organized transition has been thwarted by a pastor unwilling to mediate his differences with his principal. What a headache for our poor bishops who are already so overtaxed!
June 24, 2009, 6:43 pm
E from Park Slope says:
I have been a parishioner of St. Saviour's for almost 50 years. I attended the elementary school and the high school and so has my daughter. I have been a member of various committees for both the school and church.
What has upset me most is the way that Fr. Murphy handled(and continues to handle) the termination of Mr. Flanagan's contract. It all seems so sneaky and underhanded. Not something I would think a man of the church would do.
I have been in meetings where Fr. Murphy has adamantly refused to put any money towards the school, the money that we give in our weekly envelopes only goes to the church, NOTHING goes to the school. He wants to raise the tuition by one large amount of $3000 to $4000, whereas Mr. Flanagan knows that would be a burden on parents and asked that it be done in smaller amounts over the course of a few years.
The bottom line is that Fr. Murphy, along with cronies like Mike Sapienza, would be very happy if the school closed altogether. A school that has provided alter servers, choir, children ministry and teen ministry to the church. In my opinion, the school has lived up to keeping the faith going but the church has not.
I no longer give money to the church. Worse yet, I haven't gone to church in over a month because it has let me down. Fr. Murphy has let me down, Bishop DiMarzio has let me down.
Another matter, Fr. Murphy could get transferred next year. He will be in his 6th year. He goes along his merry way (hopefully) to a parish with no school. What happens to us then?
Mr. Flanagan deserved better treatment then this. The termination could have been done more gracefully, even if it would be that he would be let go at the end of next year. We all could have prepared for it.
June 24, 2009, 11:50 pm
Hopeful from Windsor Terrace says:
I believe the Headline for this article is misleading. As of now the matter is in mediation. The canonical law states that the Pastor has final word. I think that is what Rev. Harrington is referring to in your article when he states, "ultimately, the decision rests with the pastor." The Bishops still have plenty of influence. Bishop DiMarzio has just had quadruple bypass surgery, and Bishop Caggiano, who must cover all of Bishop DiMarzio duties, has met with parents and is reviewing the matter at hand.
June 25, 2009, 9:21 am
JK from Slope says:
Holy Cow! from Windsor Terrace says: "JK from Slope needs to do his homework. The Catholic School System in Brooklyn is switching from Parish based schools to Academies. St. Saviour will be one of the last to switch over based on its great record ... The newly established academies will be SEPARATE from its parent parish, and will be governed by dedicated and qualified laity and not the pastors ... [W]e're right on target, thanks to our steward, Principal James Flanagan. "

I did my homework, and the above is in the "Vision" plan.
But when you look at the *whole* plan objectively: It's obvious that academies will differ from the current model (and probably more so in the future), and the pastor/bishop want to cut ties to that old model to prevent "regression" after the place goes independent.
Unfortunately -- whether in schools or in other businesses -- people can do a good job up to point "X," or serve as a transition team, yet fall short of whatever management wants for the future.
June 25, 2009, 12:51 pm
John from Park Slope says:
JK....sounds like you would make the perfect first witness in an age discrimination case...after all, the "vision" as you believe it to be is to get rid of the "old" simply to prepare for some futher "new". I doubt Bishop DiMarzio would publicly agree with you there.
June 25, 2009, 1:22 pm
JK from Slope says:
Karen from Park Slope says: "You posted previously that Flanagan lost. That's misinformation ... you decided to post misinformation in a public forum.
"As far as 'Preserving the Vision' is concerned, in its review of the four schools in our cluster, the Preserving the Vision Committee commended St. Saviour for its strength and urged it to keep growing stronger ..."

(1) Sure -- I'm heck-bent on spreading misinfo, so have specifically chosen a forum in which *every single poster* is personally involved in the issue, knows the details of it, and probably can quote Mr. Flanagan's letter by heart.

The point is that Flanagan didn't "win" on the merits (say, due to performance or skills), but only because he hadn't gotten "five formal meetings."
It's hardly a win when the Office of Super.'s decisions are just unenforceable opinions; when the appellant remains fired (apparently, for reasons that *are* merits-based, for whatever reason); and when -- even if the pastor *did* heed the decision -- he could just have some pro-forma meetings, then re-fire Mr. Flanagan based on the merits.
(How promising/pleasant do you think those meetings would be? Especially since, all the while, Fr Murphy would be amassing an ever-more-detailed list of reasons.)

(2) Glad that you noticed the Vision plan's application to St. Saviour's ... because, earlier, you said that "the vision has not been stated" and "[t]he pastor is asking parents to buy into" an unknown education plan.
[But you also previously rapped me for saying that *Flanagan* said he couldn't implement the plan --- which I didn't, as noted earlier.]
Suggest you chat with Holy Cow! from Windsor Terrace [above], who has a pretty good grip on the PTV plan, the schools-to-academies switch, governance, and timeline.
June 25, 2009, 1:49 pm
Karen from Park Slope says:
JK - Fr. Murphy has a new vision and a new principal in mind - specific info he has not shared with parents. Everyone around the issue is aware of 'Preserving the Vision' tenets, PTV has been available since early this year. Flanagan/St Saviours has already been assessed by the Preserving the Vision committee, with no recommendation that he be removed or the school radically changed. I ask ' What is Murphy's new vision, the specific vision that requires a new principal' .

When you say " Sure -- I'm heck-bent on spreading misinfo", I'll let your own statement stand.
June 25, 2009, 2:05 pm
Holy Cow! from Windsor Terrace says:
If you read the Press release for the "Preserving The Vision," you will find that St. Saviour's is not mentioned. Father Murphy has called for a principal with a "Vision Towards The Future." There seems to be little worth "Preserving" in Father Murphy's opinion, but according to Bishop DiMarzio's own Preserving the Vision Video, he mentions that the new plan is meant to address schools that drain parish funds and/or are underenrolled. Neither of these issues apply to St. Saviour Elementary. See links below (PS This is exactly the kind of rigorous debate which should have taken place at St S!):

http://www.csptv.org/pressrelease.html
http://www.csptv.org/recommendations.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sPpP52m_rU&feature=email
June 25, 2009, 2:49 pm
Joe from Windsor Terrace says:
Perhaps Rev. Harrington can advise us as to who hires and fires the Pastor so that we can talk to him.
June 25, 2009, 7 pm
JK from Slope says:
Karen from Park Slope says: "I ask ' What is Murphy's new vision, the specific vision that requires a new principal' .
"When you say 'Sure -- I'm heck-bent on spreading misinfo", I'll let your own statement stand."

"Doesn't mesh with some vision" is one of many euphemisms for subjective dissatisfaction w/an employee. You're really asking "why did you fire him?" (not "what's the vision?").
Seriously: No matter *how* much I/you/we disagree with an employer -- if the employer goes into major detail, he risks violating employee privacy and causing undeserved embarrassment, just to satisfy the curiosity of third parties (who, in this case, would regard any reasons as unacceptable anyway).

As for your final statement: For the parents'/students' and Mr. Flanagan's sake, I hope that you don't become a spokesperson for this cause.
June 26, 2009, 12:52 am
john from Park Slope says:
JK...when an employer publicly states that his employee has done a wonderful job, when he references the employee's long and meritorious service and when he acknowledges that his employee has done a superb job, I suspect the employer would have to be speaking out of the other side of his mouth if he were to later claim that the decision to fire the employee was performance based. These were Father Murphy's comments. Read the news articles if you don't believe me. I appreciate your concern for the "undeserved embarrassment" that Mr. Flanagan may face if the real reason for Father Murphy's decision was made public. Your concern, however, is misguided as I suspect it would be Father Murphy who would be embarrassed if the real reason for his decision was made public.
June 26, 2009, 8:08 am
JK from Slope says:
john ...
Like everyone else, except for the parties involved, I have no idea what the real reasons are for Mr Flanagan's firing. We are *all* operating via hearsay.
But it's disingenuous to equate public praise with a job review, or to assume that a praised employee can't/won't be fired.
It happens (and I've seen it often, and am surprised that others haven't): Someone is rightly praised for his-her past record, then eased out -- because the employer thinks that those virtues won't mesh with a reorganization, or wants to bring in a new team w/other skills, or some small issue popped up that clouded the picture, or the employer wants a less 'personality'-centered structure ... or fears that the key person might eventually balk and quit, which would agitate/rally his-her allies and wreak havoc in the middle of some restructuring.

Unless an employee commits a felony: The nitty-gritty of "why XYZ was fired" *is* personal, and it *can* be embarrassing to an employee -- because we all can fall short of some employer's subjective ideal. Smart activists *never* ask for public-info release unless they know what it consists of. And when you're dealing with a job: No matter how nutty an employer is, he-she will cite good reasons for firing us ... especially if the issue has turned into WWIII.

No sane employer will divulge all details just to satisfy bystanders' curiosity. It would look like a hostile smear, create an ugly catfight (as nonparties argued and demanded ever more detail), and create legal risk. That's why, when execs are eased out of firms, the companies often just say, 'Ms Smith left to pursue other interests.'

Parents can dispute the reorganization et al, but the very-detailed firing reasons are owed only to Mr Flanagan. It's his employment contract, and his personal business, and his *alone.*
June 26, 2009, 12:41 pm
John from Park Slope says:
JK....it was you who said that Mr. Flanagan remains fired for apperent merit based reasons. I just pointed out that given his glowing endorsement of Mr. Flanagan's service as principal, Father Murphy cannot claim that his decision was performance based. Father Murphy cannot and will not articuluate his unidentified vision of the future of the School. Why is that? And you are correct, Mr. Flanagan does deserve a "very detailed" reason for his firing. Perhaps one day Father Murphy will actually be brave enough to do so and not hide behind the apparent advice of others.

Thanks for the continued debate.

Signed,

A Smart Activist
June 26, 2009, 4:54 pm
Mary from Windsor Terrace says:
Why should I care what your points are JK if you've already said you are lying on purpose to confuse the issue
June 26, 2009, 5:45 pm
JK from Slope says:
(1) Mary from Windsor Terrace says: "Why should I care what your points are JK if you've already said you are lying on purpose to confuse the issue"

I'm assuming that your emotions are clouding your reading skills.
-- I said "Sure -- I'm heck-bent on spreading misinfo" ... in the (clearly vain) belief that you'd realize this was *dry humor.* [Think: If some fiend actually wanted to spread misinfo, would they do so on a siteful of experts on that issue? That's absurd!]
I also explained that a "win" isn't a win if it can't be enforced, doesn't go to the merits, and doesn't lead to the desired result (which it wouldn't, even if the five meetings happened now). If things change, it'll be because the bishops intervene, for whatever reasons of their own.

(2) John from Park Slope says: "JK....it was you who said that Mr. Flanagan remains fired for apperent merit based reasons."
I did NOT say that. I've repeatedly explained that he won only on procedural grounds (that the *way it was done* wa defective, since he didn't get five meetings) -- and that this did NOT address the merits (his proven ability, talent, record, and whatever enigmatic reasons Murphy had for the firing).
It's like being told that you should have had an opportunity to *discuss* the merits. In the secular world, you'd get mandatory reconsideration ... but religious organizations are a different ballgame.

If I meant to tank this cause, I wouldn't be explaining *why* subjective arguments don't work, or *why* you have to see/know the other side's angle -- and really pitch your arguments to it! -- or *why* emotionalism and ill-advised demands can backfire.
What sounds smart, snappy and impassioned among friends can be *really* counterproductive, or can make the opposition dismiss you altogether (especially, FYI, if you wander into too-personal attacks, get too rigid, and-or disregard how some system "works.")
And the point is to *win*, not just to vent or feel solidarity on a picket line.
June 27, 2009, 1:32 pm
JK from Slope says:
John from Park Slope says: "JK....sounds like you would make the perfect first witness in an age discrimination case...after all, the "vision" as you believe it to be is to get rid of the "old" simply to prepare for some futher "new". I doubt Bishop DiMarzio would publicly agree with you there."

Everyone keeps forgetting: This is a *religious* school, so different rules apply.
Flanagan might have an age-discrim suit -- if he could muster up enough evidence to prove that the firing was done solely for age reasons.
*But* -- unlike a secular employer -- the diocese can argue that the firing was intrinsic to its religious mission (including restructuring and the Vision Thing) and that a secular court has no jurisdiction over this, due to the First Amendment.
That might sound like a reach ... but if not for the First Amendment, people could sue to have religions alter their management setups, ordination requirements, religious-school teaching/curriculum/admin standards, et al. Courts would have to make "theological" decisons -- which they're *not* equipped to do.
June 27, 2009, 2:09 pm
John from Park Slope says:
JK...and here I thought you were an attorney given your love as quotation marks....I seriously doubt any attorney would cite the First Amendment as grounds for an age discrimination case.
June 27, 2009, 2:25 pm
Joe from Park Slope says:
So JK....wouldn't the First Amendment then prevent all lawsuits against the Church...and here I am writing to my State Senators and Assemblyman asking them to vote against the Markey Bill
June 27, 2009, 6:04 pm
JK from Slope says:
John from Park Slope says: "JK...and here I thought you were an attorney given your love as quotation marks....I seriously doubt any attorney would cite the First Amendment as grounds for an age discrimination case."

Read my response again.
The First Amendment is grounds for DEFEATING an age-discrim case -- if a religious institution convincingly proves that a firing wasn't based on age, but on the institution's need to promote its religious mission.
June 27, 2009, 8:22 pm
John from Park Slope says:
JK....really...please tell me where such a decision was rendered ? Federal Court ? State Court ? In your own mind ?
June 27, 2009, 9 pm
JK from Slope says:
Joe from Park Slope says: "So JK....wouldn't the First Amendment then prevent all lawsuits against the Church..."

Fortunately for all of us: No. The exception is limited to theological matters -- like religious belief/instruction, who to ordain, et al. (Even in employment cases: Churches/religions do *not* automatically win just by claiming that their action was "religious." It's case-by-case -- and sometimes that "religious" claim is obvious bunk.)

If religions could claim immunity from all civil and criminal law, we'd have to permit practices that contradict our basic values and protections -- things like polygamy, underage marriage, "religious" violence, rape, forms of spousal/child abuse, et al.
Clergy would get off scot-free in all civil and criminal cases -- by saying that any prosecution would crimp the religion or pose some hardship, or that anything the clergy did was legal.
And religious groups could build mega-houses of worship on your otherwise-zoned block, throng to festive animal sacrifices in Prospect Park, etc.

That would be bad for all religion: Within a short time, even the most devout religious adherents would become cynics or agnostics -- especially if they or their loved ones were injured, defrauded, or worse, and they had absolutely no remedy.
[Personally ... I'd be upset if my clergy *wanted* that kind of immunity, since it would be contrary to the religious/ethical/human values that I thought they endorsed!]
June 27, 2009, 9:41 pm
Joe from Park Slope says:
JK....so if (a) a Pastor was to decide to get rid of a principal who has dedicated the last 37 years of his life to Catholic education; (b) the Pastor admits that he hasn't visited the School in over two years because it drains him; (c) his complete lack of involvement in the School would seem to indicate that he would have no basis for forming an informed decision about the School; (d) the Pastor refuses to give any reason for his decision; (e) the decision upsets a great number of parents and parishioners; (f) who are all told that the Pastor has the power to do whatever he wants in his Parish, i.e., he is immune from anyone questioning his decisions; and (g) the parents and parishioners we have been left with absolutely no apparent remedy, I would assume you too would personally be upset as such actions appear against the religious/ethical/human values that the we thought the Church endorsed. Correct ?
June 27, 2009, 10:21 pm
Steve Markey from Park slope says:
JK... What is your interest in this matter? Do your children attend the school? Are you a freind of Father Murphy's? you obvoiusly sound like a Lawyer for either FATHER MURPHY or the Brooklyn Dioasasis what is it? Do you have children in the School are you regestered for the next year? I am just interested in what your passion for debate is seeing that my interest is for my children. Please respond and clear this up. There are far too many children at stake as well as truly concerened parents. J.K> my full name is posted. I have 2 children in the school I pay a whole lot of money for a complete Catholic Education.

Sincerely,
Stephen Markey
Parent of 2
June 27, 2009, 11:22 pm
Peter from Boro Park says:
JK… after reading and disseminating your argument, I could not help but see that out of the 35 posted comments you own 11. Which leads me to believe you don’t have the School or the Children in mind for your arguments. Please leave this post for people with valid arguments. This may be “fun” for you and your colleagues to attempt to sway public opinion by your statements, but behind your malicious arguments are children, children who rely and need our support and the Support of Principal Flanagan.
June 28, 2009, 2:06 am
Karen from Park Slope says:
Wondered if interested parties know that the NY Daily News has picked up the story and written about the parent's struggle to restore Flanagan.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2009/06/26/2009-06-26_parents_rip_firing_of_an_excellent_slope_principal.html

Apparently, the writer is working on another more in depth story that might touch on some of the issues outlined in the comments here and has spoken to all the parties involved in depth, including some new financial issues. JK - I expect you'll be off posting your convoluted and regressive comments on that story too without stating your interest in this issue.
June 29, 2009, 12:46 am
Brian from Sunset Park says:
A good solution would be one that brought everybody back together. If Fr. Murphy could give Mr Flanagan another year and let him retire with proper respect, that would probably help everyone who does not agree. Fr.Murphy should spell out what he sees for the future of the school during a final year with Flanagan and do it after that
June 29, 2009, 12:55 am
Leo from Fort Greene says:
No wonder we can't get our kids to attend Sunday services.
June 29, 2009, 5:32 pm
Marie from Park Slope says:
It is really great that so many people are interested in this & are sharing information and links! Thank you, everyone! I also do not see anything malicious. I think we need to understand reasons & alibis for this debacle & what allowed it, & explaining that is not malice. I have backed *too many* wonderful things that lost because we did not try to outthink the opponent, & said anyone who did that was a traitor, so our whole strategy was "just say no." I do *not* want to lose & have the school suffer for it.
July 1, 2009, 2:42 pm
Sebastian Flyte from Park Slope says:
Now that the Daily News has broken the story that the firing was based on petty reasons, what do concerned parents do now? It's been noticed that the new proposed principal got "Kudos" from Father Murphy in the March 14 church bulletin for redesigning the rectory . . . you just can't make this stuff up. Perhaps if Jim Flanagan spent less time learning every kid's name in the school and more time with Ilse Crawford, he would still be at SSES.
July 5, 2009, 10:55 pm
Elsa from Windsor Terrace says:
Apparently, that's the 2nd 80K kitchen that Father Murphy has installed in a rectory. He did the spending and 'redesigning' in his last parish too. Apparently there is already a fine working kitchen in the rectory, but Murphy needed a personal 80K kitchen. That's what his new pick for principal 'helped' him with - spending parish money on a decorator kitchen. Now that he has all his cronies installed in the school, what's next for parish funds, a golden staircase? Meanwhile, a man who really was walking the talk, Flanagan, is out in the cold. Sick and wrong.
July 6, 2009, 9:02 am
Karen from Park Slope says:
Here's the link for the NY 1 story that ran last week on cable news in support of Flanagan:

http://bit.ly/X9ST9

Here's the second Daily News story where they break the reason for the firing :

http://bit.ly/49KcaH

And here's a great piece in the National Catholic Reporter about the issue:

http://bit.ly/luoKC

The news media sees the injustice here, the parents and parishioners are up in arms. Why can't Murphy see his mistake.....and do something to rectify it.....
July 6, 2009, 9:12 am
Mike S from Park Slope says:
All you people Need to get a life. Principal Flanagan is history. Fr. Murphy has done his best to bring a Solid Educator with a vision for the future. Rumor has it Flanagan doesn't even know what email is.... For Parents whom cannot afford St. Saviour Elementary let them begone!!! We at Saint Saviour Church are doing this for the Parish and community. Why should we educate students and children whom are not part of our denomination or neighborhood? We should be serving the community and if it means selling the building then let it be done! Fr. Murphy has a Vision to make Saint Saviour the best school in Brooklyn and if it means pushing out the students who don't live in Park Slope, then what exactly are we serving?
July 23, 2009, 12:19 am

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