Star of the Sea School parents and staff expressed shock and sadness at news that the more than century-old parochial school in San Francisco’s Richmond District will temporarily close at the end of this school year.

An announcement by the school and the archdiocese late in the day April 3 cited “unforeseen circumstances” stemming from the school’s transition to a classical education model.

“I’m disheartened they made a final decision about this without talking to parents about it first,” Ashwin Bhat told Catholic San Francisco at the start of the school day April 4. “The kids are the losers in this.”

“I’m Hindu but I send my children here because the community is so strong,” Bhat said.

Star principal David Gallagher appeared at the door as the paper was speaking with an interviewee. Still surprised by the news, he had just come from a school general assembly and parents and teachers were seen leaving the front door with tears in their eyes.

“People could see this coming,” Gallagher said. “Students have been trickling out and trickling out. The writing was on the wall.”

He said the archdiocese “made the final call and said this is not going to work right now.”

Two preschool parents – a father and a mother, both Catholic – stopped to drop their kids off and agreed to be interviewed without giving their names or being photographed.

“One person is to blame,” shouted the father from the school gate.

The woman said the announcement was “extremely sad” and that her family had been part of the school for seven years. “It is a wonderful community of amazing families and wonderful teachers who are close to one another,” she said. She described a schoolyard “packed with happy parents and happy students” every day. “Then Father Illo came.”

“One person destroyed a community of over 100 years,” she said, referring to Star pastor Father Joseph Illo.

The preschool father said he had no issue with the curriculum change but rejected what he called the authoritarian manner of handling it. “Our position is that it is not a rejection of faith but of the manner it has been forced upon us,” he said.

In response to a request for comment from Catholic San Francisco, Father Illo said, “Many parishioners and other parents eagerly want what the parish has to offer in the way of Catholic education,” he added. “They are expressing hurt and frustration over the negativity that has led to the suspension of classes.”

Father Illo also said that many parents were excited about a classical curriculum “but what some could simply not accept was reintegrating the school as a ministry of the parish.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.