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Academy of the Holy Names school in Tampa, Florida

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TAMPA, Florida, July 9, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A Florida couple is suing to get their money back after donating to a Catholic high school that has since gone “woke.” 

Anthony and Barbara Scarpo pledged $1.35 million in 2017 to the Academy of the Holy Names, a high school in Tampa, Florida, that both of their daughters attended.  

The Scarpos donated to help disadvantaged students and advance the academy’s master plan and were chairs of the school’s fundraising campaign, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The school’s auditorium was renamed the “Scarpo Family Theatre” in their honor.  

Last week, however, the couple filed a lawsuit to retract their pledge and have their donation returned. The 13-count complaint slams the Academy of the Holy Names.

“The Academy lost its way, distancing itself from mainstream Catholicism, and embracing the new, politically correct divisive and ‘woke’ culture where gender identity, human sexuality and pregnancy termination among other ‘hot-button issues’ took center stage,” the Scarpos’ lawsuit states. 

The complaint, filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court on June 26, also asks the academy to give the family’s tuition money to Catholic charities of their choosing. Tuition and fees for high school students at the Academy of the Holy Names run as high as $22,450. 

The Scarpos are also asking for the school to stop advertising itself as Catholic and that it no longer be accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference. Their lawsuit names the academy, former president Author Raimo, chairman of the board Ernie Garateix, and other members of the school’s leadership, as well as the Florida Catholic Conference, Newsweek said.  

Gregory Hearing, a lawyer for the Academy of the Holy Names, called the action against the school “attention-seeking.” 

“For a court to delve into whether the substance of matters taught by a Catholic school are consistent with a Catholic education would entangle the court in excessively religious matters, and thereby violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” he wrote in a letter to the Scarpos’ lawyer, Adam Levine. “That we should need to educate you on this is absurd.” 

“This is not asking the courts to get involved in a religious issue, but this is a simple breach of contract. If you’re paying for a Catholic education, that’s what you should be getting,” Levine said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.  

“It’s about the failure to deliver on a promise.” 

Newsweek reported that the Academy of the Holy Names plans to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and may file a counterclaim demanding the Scarpo family give all of their pledge. The Scarpos have donated $240,000 as of 2018, their complaint said, and have raised more than $9 million for the academy.  

Anthony Scarpo had previously spoken out against the direction of the academy, writing a letter after his elder daughter’s graduation blasting the school, according to his lawsuit. 

“The continued indoctrination of your twisted version of social and racial justice, equity, inclusion, sexuality and today’s politically correct narrative has permeated like a stench through the halls of the Academy and been allowed to seep into the minds of our children, causing stress, anger, guilt and confusion,” Scarpo wrote.   

“You were always eager to solicit our hard-earned money and take what you could but held firm as you dragged dozens if not hundreds of conservative families and teachers through your reimagined, highly progressive world, even as parents and students asked you … pleaded with you to stop, slow down,” he continued. The Scarpo family ultimately transferred their younger daughter to a different high school. 

In their lawsuit, the Scarpos highlighted a blackboard in a school common area that promoted becoming an LGBT “ally.” The academy’s message “utterly fails to put any part of this explanation into perspective within mainstream Catholicism,” they said. 

They also noted a letter issued by Raimo and Garateix about the creation of a “justice, equity, diversity and inclusion committee.” The letter claimed that “racism and hatred” were “reflected in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor” and stressed the need for “uncomfortable” race-related conversations.  

Raimo and Garateix did not “recognize the harm to their White, non-Diverse students by making them believe that they and their families are personally responsible for the historic harm(s) some members of our society have visited on other members of our society,” the Scarpos’ complaint read.  

Emily Wise, a spokeswoman for the academy, told Newsweek that the school’s curriculum is “based on Catholic values and rigorous academic standards.” “The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the school’s founding order, are dedicated to the full development of the human person through education, social justice, contemplation and the arts,” she said.  

The Sisters of the Holy Names is an increasingly pro-LGBT order of nuns. This year, the order’s leadership team signed onto a statement led by an LGBT activist group and joined by dissident bishops that told homosexuals and transgenders “God is on your side.” The statement made no mention of the intrinsic evil and grave health hazards of homosexuality and transgenderism.