Pa. diocese: Racist educator changed name, hid NY firing

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The now-fired headmaster of a Pennsylvania Catholic school had changed his name and didn’t disclose that he had been fired from another Catholic school because of his racist writings, a diocese said Wednesday.

The man formerly known as Frank Borzellieri had legally changed his name before he was hired in December at DuBois Area Catholic School, said Samuel Signorino, the director of schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie. The man’s legal name was Mario Bella when he was hired at the school, a K-12 institution about 75 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Last week, a school employee dug up information about Bella’s past, and he was terminated Friday after diocesan officials learned he had omitted from his resume his 2011 firing by the Archdiocese of New York.

The identity change “really fooled us,” and Bella’s references “gave no indication that he had a different name in the past,” Signorino said.

The Associated Press could not immediately determine where and when Borzellieri changed his name and could not locate listed phone numbers or other contact information for him under either name in Pennsylvania and New York. Messages to his publisher, Cultural Studies Press, of New York, were not immediately returned.

The publisher’s website still touts books written by Borzellieri, including “Lynched: A Conservative’s Life on a New York City School Board,” which recounts his 11 years “as the only conservative and Eurocentrist on this ultra-liberal school board.”

Borzellieri made headlines while on that board for trying to ban a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. from the school district, calling King a “hypocritical adulterer” and “a leftist hoodlum with significant Communist ties.”

In August 2011, New York church officials fired Borzellieri after two years as principal of Our Lady of Mount 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.”

Signorino said the educator’s resume didn’t include any information about the New York school. Because his educational background was otherwise impressive and the references checked out, he was hired, Signorino said.

None of the references told the diocese and its school that Bella worked for them under his previous name, Signorino said.

“We went back to some of the references and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ and they said, ‘You didn’t ask that specific question,'” Signorino said. “I’ve been an educator for 30 years, and I’ve never run across something like this.”

A school employee dug up the information on Bella’s past. Church and school officials declined to identify the person.

Monsignor Charles Kaza, the school’s interim president, said he believes the employee was simply curious about the new headmaster’s background.

“We have a new person in here and let’s see what we can find out about him, that kind of thing,” Kaza said.

Signorino said he expects applicants will henceforth be asked if they’ve ever used another name.

“We thought we were very thorough, getting a criminal records check and all those other clearances, his transcripts, everything like that,” Kaza said. “A learning experience is what I think you could call it.”

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