Florida couple sue ‘awakened’ Catholic school to cancel $ 1.35million donation after ‘losing her way’
Florida couple sue Catholic school once attended by their children in an attempt to have their $ 1.35 million pledge rescinded, claiming the school has “lost its way” by embracing “awakening culture” and by distancing itself from traditional Catholicism.
Anthony and Barbara Scarpo announced their engagement in 2017 at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, which their two daughters were attending at the time. They demanded that the money be used for the school’s master plan and to provide scholarships for underprivileged students.
Now, a 45-page lawsuit accuses the school of fraud and prioritizes “gender identity, human sexuality and termination of pregnancy among other burning issues” over mainstream Catholic teachings. The Scarpos also took issue with the way the run to address the school, saying white students have to “check their white privilege” and feel guilty for the color of their skin and because their parents can afford to. send them to the academy.
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“They were paying $ 23,000 a year for a Catholic education they cared about,” Scarpos lawyer Adam Levine told Fox News. “Over the past couple of years the school has embraced the new awakening culture and the Scarpos are not really opposed to teaching children almost everything, but they are opposed to teaching children in the absence of it. that the church says or in the absence of the positions of the church.
âThis is really not the Scarpo’s opposition to teaching children about gender, race or sexuality or who you have chosen to marry,â he added. “It’s more about the fact that this is all done in a vacuum completely separate from anything the church says.”
The couple are mostly retired, Levine said. Anthony Scarpo owns a diamond import company, and his wife has been listed as a managing partner of First Trust Funding Group, according to an article posted on the school’s website.
In 2018, the couple paid $ 240,000 for the pledge and raised more than $ 9 million for the school, Levine said. Their ties to the school run deep, according to the report. They were appointed academy fundraising chairmen and the school auditorium was renamed “Scarpo Family Theater”.
The lawsuit demands that the money they offered be returned and that the school fees they have already paid be donated to Catholic charities of their choice, he said. Levine said his client’s attempts to meet with school administrators to address their concerns were rejected.
They were the âfaceâ of the institution because of their fundraising work, he said.
When contacted for comment by Fox News, the academy called the trial allegations “false and unfounded.”
âWe will continue to pray for all parties involved and, if necessary, we are ready to defend ourselves in court,â said Emily Wise, spokesperson for the school.
A letter obtained by Fox News from academy attorney Gregory Hearing to Levine said the lawsuit was a publicity stunt based on “frivolous” allegations. The hearing said the school could file a counterclaim to get the remainder of the pledge and Florida law could require them to pay.
âWe cannot discern any motivation behind the lawsuit other than seeking attention from your customers and a desire on your part to create a brand,â reads Hearing’s letter. âFor a court to consider whether the content of subjects taught by a Catholic school is compatible with a Catholic education, the court would be in excessively religious cases and thus violate the establishment clause of the US Constitution. ”
“That we need to inform you about this is absurd,” he added.
The academy accommodates about 970 students from junior kindergarten to eighth grade and one high school for girls, according to its website. Tuition fees ranged from $ 14,650 for preschool students to $ 22,450 for high school students, said the Tampa Bay Times, who first reported the lawsuit.
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The Scarpo’s claim that the school has abandoned traditional Catholicism, leaving many parents angry.
“The continued indoctrination of your twisted version of social and racial justice, fairness, inclusion, sexuality and the politically correct narrative of today has seeped like a scent into the halls of Academy and was allowed to infiltrate our children’s minds, causing stress, anger, guilt and confusion, âScarpo wrote in a letter to the school on the occasion of the graduation ceremony of his eldest daughter, The Times reported. “Clearly a very distorted view of the Bible, of Sister Marie Rose’s true mission and of our Catholic faith according to the diocese and in total violation of what we as parents wanted, expected and paid for.”
âYou were always anxious to ask for our hard-earned money and take what you could, but you held on as you dragged dozens, if not hundreds of conservative families and teachers through your reimagined and very progressive world, even when parents and students have asked you toâ¦ stop, slow downâ¦ consider them and their families and their long, traditional history with school. â
The couple’s other daughter has since been transferred to another school.
The lawsuit cites another letter sent by Art Raimo, then president of the academy, and Ernie Garateix, president of the school board, about the creation of a justice, fairness, justice committee. diversity and inclusion.
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He said “rejecting the racism and hatred reflected in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor … it is imperative that we have conversations that are uncomfortable, that we learn from them, that we reconcile and that we were growing “.
âIf we take inclusive education seriously in our Catholic schools, then we must be concerned about the quest for equity for all who work in our community,â the letter read. âThe Church’s social teaching and our participation in this teaching must be at the heart of what guides our work as a community. The well-being of all – staff and students – requires the removal of all barriers of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. if we are all to strive and achieve our full potential as unique and fulfilled human beings. “
The Scarpos said the letter from Raimo and Garateix failed to acknowledge the harm done to undiversified white students by “making them believe that they and their families are personally responsible for the historical harm (s). that some members of our society have visited other members of our society. “
The lawsuit said that nowhere does justice and righting redress require the absence of a traditional Catholic education. The complaint cited a letter from another parent about a poster placed in a school hallway providing information on how to be a better âally of the LGBTQ + communityâ.
“It shows that this school is no longer a Catholic institution,” said the letter, riddled with various gender identities. “When I made the decision to send my daughter (female, non-male, cis-gender) to the Academy of the Holy Names, I thought I had chosen a Catholic education, one that would follow what the Church teaches and would not fall prey to the politically popular movements of the time.
Wise said the school’s curriculum “is, and always has been, based on Catholic values ââand high academic standards.” She added: âThe Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the founding order of the school, are dedicated to the full development of the human person through education, social justice, contemplation and the arts.