A Florida principal who was fired after showing students 'David' is welcomed in Italy
Hope Carrasquilla, a Florida principal who was asked to resign in March after sixth-grade students were taught about and shown a picture of Michelangelo's David statue, traveled to Florence, Italy to see the sculpture in real life.
"David was magnificent in person," Carrasquilla told NPR. "All students should study the Renaissance, not only the art but the history as well."
The invitation came from Cecilie Hollberg, the director of Florence's Accademia Galleria, where the Renaissance artwork is housed. The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, also expressed interest in having Carrasquilla visit, adding that whoever teaches such art deserves respect.
Following Carrasquilla's resignation, a spokesperson for Florida's Department of Education, Alex Lanfranconi, said the state agrees that David has "artistic and historical value."
"Florida encourages instruction on the classics and classical art, and would not prohibit its use in instruction," he told Florida's Voice in March.
Carrasquilla was the principal at Tallahassee Classical School in Leon County, Fla. Each year, students in a sixth-grade art history class learn about the Michelangelo sculpture as part of a lesson on the Renaissance period.
But this year, things went awry. Carrasquilla, who had been the school's principal for about nine months, said her administration accidently forgot to send an email notifying parents about the lesson ahead of time — which had been done in years prior.
"I made the assumption that the letter went out, and I didn't follow up on it," she told NPR in March. "It is my responsibility to make sure these things happen, but honestly we did not have to send out a letter regarding Renaissance art."
Three parents were upset, according to Carrasquilla. Two parents said they wished they were notified about the lesson beforehand, while one parent complained more specifically about the nudity, equating it to pornographic material.
The school later sent out an apology to parents of the sixth grade class about the oversight. Despite the measure, Carrasquilla said she was given the option to resign or be terminated without cause by the school board chair.
Carrasquilla said she was not given a specific reason for the ultimatum. However, the fallout at Tallahassee Classical comes at a time when control of school curricula is increasingly contested across the country.
Days after Carrasquilla was let go, the Republicans in the U.S. House passed legislation known as the national "Parents Bill of Rights" to boost parents' access to information about their child's education.
"I miss the teachers, the students," Carrasquilla said in March. "I felt like I was supposed to be there, like I had a purpose. I love classical education and I want everyone to be taught that way, so I miss that." [Copyright 2023 NPR]