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New principal at St. Saviour’s — but protests go on in Flanagan’s wake

The Brooklyn Paper
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A pastor’s decision to fire a popular principal has sparked a schism in a Park Slope Catholic school — and his selection of a new administrator hasn’t quelled the holy war.

After Rev. Daniel Murphy’s controversial decision last month to not renew the contract of St. Saviour Elementary School Principal James Flanagan — a beloved administrator who had been in charge of the well-regarded school for 25 years — the pastor announced last week that he has hired Congregation Beth Elohim Early Childhood Center co-director Maura Lorenzen to lead the Eighth Avenue Catholic school.

But parents who have repeatedly protested in support of the ousted principal claim that the pastor’s appointment of Lorenzen is a clear-cut sign of cronyism.

“He’s trying to get rid of everyone here and replace them with his people,” said St. Saviour parent Cindy Brolsma, who alleged that Lorenzen — as well as other employees hired by Murphy — are actually close friends of the reverend.

“The whole idea of religious education is that you hope that morals and ethics are really emphasized, and this doesn’t look like its moral or ethical.”

Murphy declined to discuss exactly why he chose to hire Lorenzen — a lifelong St. Saviour’s parishioner and a graduate from the parish’s school — but he told The Brooklyn Paper he had never met her before his 2004 arrival.

“I am very, very confident that [Lorenzen] will be a principal that the students will benefit from and the parents can relate can to,” said Murphy, who, insiders insist, dismissed Flanagan after clashes over issues including tuition.

Lorenzen — who could not be reached for comment by The Brooklyn Paper’s catholic deadline — will start in August, according to the pastor.

Although some pro-Flanagan protesters were peeved by Lorenzen’s appointment, Park Slope pundits, including The Brooklyn Paper’s “Smartmom” columnist Louise Crawford, suggested that St. Saviour parents should give Lorenzen a chance.

“She is a beloved school administrator and educator, who works well with parents, staff and children,” Crawford wrote on her Web site, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.

“She is a special person,” she added. “And this school needs someone special to replace the special principal that they lost.”

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

wally from parkslope says:
It is about time that Flanagan is ousted. He is out of touch with reality and has been for some time. My childern both graduated from St Saviour and I must tell you from an education point of view, would not send my other two children there. Flanagan is rude and only ddoes thing one way. I am not a negitive person, but this is the best thing that could happen to the scool. Parents trust me I have dealt with him for well over 12 years. A complete waste
July 16, 2009, 7:06 pm
wally from parkslope says:
It is about time that Flanagan is ousted. He is out of touch with reality and has been for some time. My children both graduated from St Saviour and I must tell you from an education point of view, would not send my other two children there. Flanagan is rude and only ddoes thing one way. I am not a negative person, but this is the best thing that could happen to the school. Parents trust me I have dealt with him for well over 12 years. A complete waste
July 16, 2009, 7:07 pm
Rocky from South Brooklyn says:
Crawford only got on the bandwagon once she read somewhere that a friend of hers got the job. Otherwise her smarmy "blog" is filled with stuff that was anti Fr. Daniel Murphy's position.
July 16, 2009, 9:29 pm
Jerry from Brklyn says:
“He’s trying to get rid of everyone here and replace them with his people,” said St. Saviour parent Cindy Brolsma, who alleged that Lorenzen — as well as other employees hired by Murphy — are actually close friends of the reverend."

I don't get the above. If the pastor is CEO, and is final authority on hire/fire and major decisions -- whose "people" are the ALTERNATIVE to "his people"? (Is he supposed to ask for write-ins? Ask parents to review applicants' personal info? Never make changes? Have a schoolwide vote re hirees?)

Yes, the pastor-as-CEO setup is a Dark Ages relic, and if you want to avoid bad surprises: find out, early, who the final "decider"/CEO is, or pick a more democratic school. B/C parochial-school setups are what they are. If there's an Official Decider, complaining that he's hiring "his people" is like complaining that Mike Bloomberg is hiring "his people" at Bloomberg L.P.
July 17, 2009, 5:14 am
Harriet from PS says:
Rocky - I've followed this story, which included reading the not-many St S.-related items on Crawford's blog.

Regardless of her opinion here: her blog just runs the text of the hiring announcement, with Crawford's comment that she rec'd it from a St. Saviour's parent.

Right below it are at least *two dozen* comments, 99.9% from parents, and 99% *very* critical of St. S.'s and Murphy, or rapping the new principal - generally or specifically.
Some of them sling some pretty dense mud about everybody involved. [In fact, one of the very-very few *non* 'anti-St S.' posts there is from the new principal's ex-employer, to commend her and to quash some rumor that they'd fired her.]

So no matter what Crawford says here - the blog doesn't reflect any pro-Murphy bandwagon, and it sure didn't stifle any anti-St. S. sentiment.
[But looks like you have a pre-existing dislike of C. and-or that blog. For my part - I don't think the blog is 'smarmy'; it's just a blog.]
July 18, 2009, 1:06 am
Harriet from PS says:
PS - And yes, I read Crawford's 'give Lorenzen a chance' blog-bit, but I didn't see it as a bandwagon, or a problem: the anti-Murphy campaign unfortunately hadn't worked; people knew near-zero about Lorenzen [except usual worst-possible rumors]; and if - like it or not - you're going to get a new principal, it helps to weigh *some* other input. That item also drew negative comments.
So comment, yes - but no bandwagon.
July 18, 2009, 1:32 am
Bob from Park Slope says:
Hey people, can we just focus on the SCHOOL and NEWS about it, please? Who cares if the paper quotes someone who writes for it or what Dick and Jane think about her blog.
July 19, 2009, 8:37 am
Rita says:
Maura has a solid vision and understands the financials. She will build the school up and ensure money comes into the church. She has a solid foundation and will raise tuition because Father Murphy needs it to cover what he is losing in collections to offset what he tells the diocese. By the way why is Father Murphy driving and parking his lexus SC09 in the school parking lot? Gee wonder where the money came from?

Also does anyone wonder why lackys like Mike Sapienza and Rita Lavin gets to park their luxury cars in the school lot while the school children have to play in the sidewalks?

July 23, 2009, 12:28 am
stan from PARK SLOPE says:
Cindy B: regarding your above quote of : "He's trying to get rid of everyone here and replace them with his people" makes one think you are missing a key point. In the christian community words/terms like "my people, you people, his people, everyone here people" simply do not exist. We are ALL children(people) of God and Father Murphy is his Chosen One.
July 23, 2009, 9:31 pm
Donna from Brooklyn says:
Dear Stan the Kool Aid Man,
This is the real world, Father Murphy - "The Chosen One"?????? Jesus Christ is the Chosen One and only Jesus is the Chosen One. All the rest can go astray - even priests. Maybe that's the real problem here, many people seem to think Murphy is Jesus. Ridiculous! Remember what happened in the temple - Jesus had to cleanse the temple - rid the merchants - threw them out.
PS Stan, don't spill the Kool Aid!
July 24, 2009, 8:34 pm
Cindy B. from Windsor Terrace says:
Stan, that's it exactly! Ideally the playing field is level. We are all children of God, although I would debate that Father Murphy is his Chosen One. I have a feeling that even Father would debate that. That said, we must let the scales fall from our eyes, and be sure that corruption of our religion is rooted out. God's children deserve no less.
July 24, 2009, 11:09 pm

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