Classical School’s license for curriculum revoked following “David” statue spectacle

Hillsdale College revoked the Tallahassee charter school’s rights to its educational materials
Hillsdale College pulls TLH Classical School license
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:30 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2023 at 10:05 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The college that supplies the Tallahassee Classical School’s curriculum has revoked the charter school’s license, stating recent “drama” revolving around the school is a “parody” of the goals of classical education.

The decision follows nationwide conversations and criticism of the school’s decision to force out former principal Hope Carrasquilla after a teacher showed Michelangelo’s statue “David,” which depicts a nude male body, to a 6th-grade art class.

The controversy surrounding the school’s actions drew headlines from national outlets, a skit from The Daily Show and even prompted comments from the mayor of Florence, where the statue of “David” is on display.

The revocation means TCS’s license for Hillsdale’s educational materials will expire at the end of this school year. TCS did not respond immediately to requests for comment or questions from WCTV about how they will move forward following this announcement.

The lesson including a photo of “David” took place on March 17. Several parents reached out the day of the lesson to express concerns, with one parent describing the statue as “pornographic,” Carrasquilla said. Just six days later, she resigned.

The school board gave Carrasquilla the choice to resign or be fired at the advice of the school’s employment lawer. But the decision wasn’t solely based on the complaints about the handling of “David,” Board Chair Barney Bishop said. While he declined to expand, the former principal said issues had been ongoing.

“Over time he didn’t like the way I did, or didn’t do, certain things,” Carrasquilla said. “I was a new principal in the beginning of the year, I didn’t know.”

In a meeting Monday night at the school, parents spoke to the institution’s leadership about the “David” lesson and removal of Carrasquilla.

One parent at the meeting said his complaints did not focus on the lesson itself. The school failed to properly notify parents ahead of the lesson, he said, and that took away his right to talk to his child first.

The school board passed a rule in February requiring parents to be notified two weeks in advance of any lesson that could be considered “controversial.” The parent said no notice was sent.

In addition, he said that after he voiced complaints about the lesson including “David,” Carrasquilla brought his daughter into an office without consulting him and showed her images of the statue again.

Bishop said parents have been notified in the past and should have been notified in this instance, too.

“Parents were entitled to advanced notice whenever we teach a controversial issue,” Bishop said to WCTV after her removal. “This was done last year, a letter was sent out in advance. But a letter was not sent out in advance this year, but again that’s not the reason she was asked to resign.”

Hillsdale said it will continue to include “David” and other similar works in its K-12 curriculum.

“Of course, Hillsdale’s K-12 art curriculum includes Michelangelo’s “David” and other works of art that depict the human form,” the statement said.