Wait. What? A principal was fired over 6th graders seeing a photo of Michelangelo’s David sculpture

(AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)

Hope Carrasquilla of Tallahassee Classical School in Leon County is no longer employed by the school. She was given a choice by the school board – resign or be fired. She chose to resign. Why? Well, that is the question. Was it because sixth-graders were shown a picture of Michelangelo’s David sculpture in their Renaissance art history class?


Carrasquilla’s termination was the subject of a last-minute emergency board meeting that was scheduled for 7 a.m. Monday. Three parents complained about the photo being shown in class and how the exposure to the world-renowned classic was handled. The school is a charter school. Parents send their children there for a classical education. Renaissance art history is to be expected as part of the curriculum. These are sixth-graders, not kindergarteners. Typically, sixth-graders are 11 and 12 years old.

As a charter school, some rules may be different, or more strict than standard public schools. In this case, the controversy involves a classic work of art, a nude sculpture that exposes the observer to male genitals. The principal is responsible to notify parents when classroom instruction involves something that may be considered controversial so the parent has an opt-out option for their child. This rule is alleged to stay within the guidelines of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. See where this is going?

The Parental Rights in Education law is for school children from kindergarten to fourth grade. The Florida Legislature is working on a bill that would include expanding restrictions on classroom instruction concerning discussions of sexual identification and gender identity through 12th grade. Parents were not notified about the picture of the sculpture before it was shown in class this year. Two parents complained that they were not given advance notice and one parent called the art “not age-appropriate” for the children and pornographic.


I’m guessing that it was the charge of pornography that set off the alarm for the school board. No one wants to get sideways with the new law, certainly not in this hyper-charged political atmosphere when parents are taking back their rights to know what is being taught in their child’s school. “Pornography” is not a word to be ignored. Bishop applauds Governor DeSantis’s cultural agenda as it relates to education. Expanding that agenda up through college-aged students faces legal challenges.

According to Bishop, DeSantis’s educational agenda is something to applaud strongly. “Parental rights are supreme,” he told the Post.

DeSantis wants to expand the law from covering children up to the third grade to covering children and young adults through grade twelve. Broadening the law’s purview would also increase complex situations for teachers, administrators, parents, and students to adjudicate.

The Florida governor is also attempting to ensure that certain concepts about race, gender, and sexuality aren’t being taught in Florida colleges and universities. The Individual Freedom Act, commonly dubbed the “Stop-WOKE” law, has been criticized by groups concerned with free speech and academic freedom.

Last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from the DeSantis administration and higher-education officials to block an injunction that has not allowed enforcement of the law.

“Professors must be able to discuss subjects like race and gender without hesitation or fear of state reprisal,” said the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, or FIRE, as quoted in Politico.

“Any law that limits the free exchange of ideas in university classrooms should lose in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.”


The politics, especially since DeSantis is expected to run for president, cannot be ignored. But, this is a conservative school. It explains its philosophy on its website. The school is new and has run into some difficulties.

When Tallahassee Classical opened in the fall of 2020, the K-12 school stated on its website that its mission was “to train the minds and improve the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.” Tallahassee Classical had been advised by Hillsdale College, which has raised money by pushing back on what the institution describes as “leftist” academics teaching a “biased and distorted” view of U.S. history, according to the New York Times. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas once called Hillsdale College “a shining city on a hill,” and the school hired his activist wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, to help establish a full-time presence in the nation’s capital.

Hillsdale College dropped Tallahassee Classical last year as a member school for not meeting its improvement standards, but the Florida school regained its curriculum status.

Hope Carrasquilla was well-qualified for her job.

A longtime resident of Tallahassee, Hope Carrasquilla was named principal of Tallahassee Classical less than a year ago after serving as the dean of curriculum and instruction. The school celebrated her 27 years of teaching experience, including 10 years of classical education experience, in her biography, which has been removed from Tallahassee Classical’s website.

“She is excited to help shape the hearts and minds of the young scholars at Tallahassee Classical School for the sake of making our community and country a better place,” the biography reads.


The complaints from the three parents are capturing attention in this story but it is not the sole reason that Carrasquilla was terminated. Bishop said she was terminated, or given the option to resign, due to other issues, too. The kerfuffle over advance notice to parents about the David sculpture seems to be the final straw. He has not stated what the other reasons were for the school board’s decision. It would make forming an opinion about this story easier if all the facts were presented. Only hearing about one reason for termination isn’t giving the full picture.

Bishop said he does not think “David” is controversial, noting that he studied Renaissance art in Italy 50 years ago. He added that while 97 percent of the parents had no problem with the art class, Bishop emphasized that parents’ rights and concerns what their children are being taught trump whatever he thinks about the lesson.

“I listened to what the parents had to say and have been in communication with them constantly, but I didn’t ask what was controversial, and I know I’m not going to change their opinion on that,” he said.

Without all the reasons for her termination, it is easy to take Carrasquilla’s side. Give her the warning to remind her to fulfill the school’s obligation to notify parents in advance of any classroom material that may be considered controversial. But it sounds harsh that she was fired over her neglect to do so in this case. I don’t know what to say about the parent who claimed the sculpture is pornographic. That’s absurd. You can argue whether or not you want to have your child exposed to great works of art at the age of 11 or 12 but even then I would argue that it would be appropriate material. I’m certain that by the sixth grade, I was aware of the sculpture and at that age, I was in a regular public school, not a charter school or private school. There was no special focus on classical education. Granted, dinosaurs roamed the earth when I was in elementary school, but still. You get the point.


I’m the first to admit I was more helicopter parent than a survival-of-the-fittest parent. I was a room mom and a field trip chaperone, as well as active in the PTA and PTO. I knew what was going on in our son’s classroom and in the school. It’s easy to see how the bills coming out of the Florida Legislature with the approval of Governor DeSantis will be politicized. Everything is politicized today. There are slams against DeSantis for his conservative opinions on social issues and his goal to protect very young children from progressive social agendas, at least in the classroom. I don’t think, however, that showing the “David” sculpture in a sixth-grade art history class is controversial. YMMV.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this story. There must be more to it than what is being told now.

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