New principal at St. Saviour’s — but protests go on in Flanagan’s wake

Parents protested in front of the Brooklyn diocese office on Greene Avenue in Fort Greene in support of St. Saviour’s principal James Flanagan, whose contract at the Park Slope school has not been renewed, despite his 25 years of service.
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

A pastor’s decision to fire a popular principal has sparked a schism in a Park Slope Catholic school — and his selection of a new administrator hasn’t quelled the holy war.

After Rev. Daniel Murphy’s controversial decision last month to not renew the contract of St. Saviour Elementary School Principal James Flanagan — a beloved administrator who had been in charge of the well-regarded school for 25 years — the pastor announced last week that he has hired Congregation Beth Elohim Early Childhood Center co-director Maura Lorenzen to lead the Eighth Avenue Catholic school.

But parents who have repeatedly protested in support of the ousted principal claim that the pastor’s appointment of Lorenzen is a clear-cut sign of cronyism.

“He’s trying to get rid of everyone here and replace them with his people,” said St. Saviour parent Cindy Brolsma, who alleged that Lorenzen — as well as other employees hired by Murphy — are actually close friends of the reverend.

“The whole idea of religious education is that you hope that morals and ethics are really emphasized, and this doesn’t look like its moral or ethical.”

Murphy declined to discuss exactly why he chose to hire Lorenzen — a lifelong St. Saviour’s parishioner and a graduate from the parish’s school — but he told The Brooklyn Paper he had never met her before his 2004 arrival.

“I am very, very confident that [Lorenzen] will be a principal that the students will benefit from and the parents can relate can to,” said Murphy, who, insiders insist, dismissed Flanagan after clashes over issues including tuition.

Lorenzen — who could not be reached for comment by The Brooklyn Paper’s catholic deadline — will start in August, according to the pastor.

Although some pro-Flanagan protesters were peeved by Lorenzen’s appointment, Park Slope pundits, including The Brooklyn Paper’s “Smartmom” columnist Louise Crawford, suggested that St. Saviour parents should give Lorenzen a chance.

“She is a beloved school administrator and educator, who works well with parents, staff and children,” Crawford wrote on her Web site, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.

“She is a special person,” she added. “And this school needs someone special to replace the special principal that they lost.”

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