Officials of a central Pennsylvania Catholic school were forced to fire the new headmaster after less than two months when it was discovered he had previously been fired by the Archdiocese of New York for writings it deemed racist.
Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico named Frank Borzellieri headmaster of DuBois Area Catholic School, a K-12 institution about 75 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, on Dec. 3, according to the school's Facebook page - except Persico and school officials believed Borzellieri's name was Mario Bella.
Monsignor Charles Kaza, the school's interim president, told WJAC-TV and the (DuBois) Courier Express that Borzellieri was fired Friday, a day after officials learned his true identity. Kaza, who serves at one of seven parishes from which the school draws its students, did not immediately return a call for comment from The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The AP could not immediately locate a phone number for Borzellieri, or any listed under the Mario Bella alias. His New York-publisher, Cultural Studies Press, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Borzellieri or on his behalf.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York told the AP in August 2011 that Borzellieri was fired after two years as principal of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, a predominantly black and Hispanic elementary school in the Bronx, for writings church officials deemed racially offensive.
That happened shortly after the New York Daily News reported that Borzellieri had written that expanding black and Hispanic populations would create a "New Dark Age."
Borzellieri was known before that for his tenure on a Queens school board in the 1990s, about which he wrote a book, "Lynched: A Conservative's Life on a New York City School Board."
The Cultural Studies Press website said the book chronicles Borzellieri's 11 years "as the only conservative and Eurocentrist on this ultra-liberal school board. In these pages, he documents how the New York City political and educational establishments tried their best to destroy his career for daring to speak the truth about the racial, cultural and educational issues that are destroying this country."
Borzellieri made headlines in 1994 for trying to ban a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. from the school district, telling Newsday at the time that King was a "hypocritical adulterer" and "a leftist hoodlum with significant Communist ties."
The Rev. Eric Rapaglia, the pastor of the Bronx parish, told the AP in 2011 that hiring Borzellieri was "mistake in judgment." The pastor said neither he nor a search committee knew about Borzellieri's political writings when they hired him. Instead, Borzellieri had good credentials, including experience in two other mostly minority schools, and no one complained about him to the archdiocese, Rapaglia said then.
Monsignor Richard Siefer, whose rectory at St. Catherine of Siena parish housed Borzellieri while he headed the Pennsylvania school, said he was on the search committee that recommended Bella be hired. Applicants were recruited through a diocesan job posting and one on a national site for Catholic educators, Siefer said.
"But I had nothing to do with the vetting process after that," he said. "Personally, I did none of that. I'm going to assume that they did that, the school board, but you know what happens when we assume."
Siefer said the search began in about August, after Persico reassigned a priest who had been the school's headmaster.
Persico referred questions to a diocesan education official, who had no immediate comment.
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.