High School

One anonymous complaint forces NYC school to cover up cross

Residents of a Staten Island, N.Y. community are mad after an anonymous complaint from one parent compelled the New York City Department of Education to cover up a cross on the side of a building the district is leasing from the local Catholic diocese.

The cross has been on the side of the former orphanage in Pleasant Plains since the 1950s, but workers from the education department showed up recently and covered it with a large maroon sign identifying the building as the “Home of the Panthers.”

The district says that rules governing the separation of church and state obligate it to remove any religious symbols from buildings leased with public tax dollars.

The New York City district has been leasing the building on the grounds of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto for more than 15 years from the Roman Catholic New York Archdiocese. It uses the building to house the South Richmond High School for students with special needs. The cross has been on the side of the building throughout that time, but became more prominent recently when a large evergreen bush partially obscuring it was removed.

Shortly afterward, according to a report in the local Staten Island Advance, a single, anonymous complaint that a Christian cross was inappropriate on a public school building spurred the district to action.

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