Fight to save Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School

Out of time! Faith eroding among Bishop Ford activists

The Brooklyn Paper
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That’s them on the corner. That’s them in the spotlight. Losing their religion.

Concerned Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School faithful rallied on Sunday to demand that the school’s board of directors consider an alternate budget they created that calls for saving the school through private fund-raising. The impending June closure of the school and the plan’s lack of traction with school administrators is causing some embittered advocates to question their very beliefs.

“I’m actually losing my faith,” said Peter DiGeronimo, whose son is a junior at the school. “I haven’t gone to church in two weeks.”

The school’s principal Thomas Arria shocked parents, students, and graduates of the school when he announced in April that Bishop Ford would close its doors. He cited declining enrollment numbers when explaining the decision to turn off the lights and the Brooklyn Diocese pointed to massive debts from unpaid payroll taxes and outstanding loans it made to the struggling school in years past.

The Brooklyn Diocese ceded control of its Catholic schools in the 1970s, turning them over to independent boards of directors. During the past few years, the Diocese lent Bishop Ford more than $1 million, hoping the extra cash would help the school save itself. But in an interview posted on New Evangelization Television, a news website owned by the Diocese, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said the church simply does not have the money to front anymore.

“It was impossible for the Diocese to lend more money,” he told the religious outlet. “We don’t have the money in the Diocese to bail out all the schools that are in trouble.”

School-boosters turned activists presented the school’s board of directors with a plan to raise $2 million through fund-raisers to keep the school open for another year, but the board refused to vote on it, the group said.

Bishop DiMarzio put the cost of saving the school at $5 million and one student said his refusal to put up the cash that would be a saving grace shows his true colors.

“If the Bishop was a good Catholic, he wouldn’t shut the doors,” said Christopher Malcaus, a senior at the school. “This is our home away from home.”

Some school advocates accuse the church of making a cynical attempt to cash in on the valuable Windsor Terrace property it occupies. The church denies the charge, saying it had to cut off its dependent before running out of cash itself.

The property is zoned residential and could be redeveloped into a four-story apartment building without any special permission from the city, but the Diocese typically rents buildings out rather than selling them off, according to one realtor.

“They have plenty of sites in primary locations,” said Chris Havens, an associate broker for, referring to the Diocese. “But they’ve been leasing.”

Parents and alumni lamented not hearing about the school’s dire financial condition sooner. Extra time could have helped them save the school, they said.

“I feel like we were deceived,” said Anthony DeVito, who graduated from Bishop Ford in the 1970s and sent his three kids there. “We didn’t have the time to fund-raise.”

An online fund-raiser with a $2 million goal, aimed at saving the school, had collected $37,578 by Monday afternoon.

The sensitive rock group R.E.M., famous for its smash hit “Losing My Religion,” filmed a music video for the song “All the Way to Reno” at Bishop Ford.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
May 19, 2014, 5:37 pm
The Dark Falcon from vicinity of Park Slope says:
To the parents of students who were attending BFCCHS. Alum were talking about misused funds 4 years ago. You would think that someone would've gone to the school and asked about what was going on with donated money, with tuition. If any of you would've even seen the conditions of the bathroom that would've been a sign of trouble in the school. The board that was put in place by the diocese is not responsible for in any way of what happened to BFCCHS. The fact is the prior administration was warned of the schools closing if they didn't reverse course. The prior administration ignored us. Shunned is. They even attacked our group using students. Bishop Ford was once a great great school. It does not have the appearance it did then, now. Criminal acts took place inside of the school and there was no accountability what so ever. You were expected to just hand over your hard earned money and hope no one would say a word. In a few days I will be discussing in great detail events that steered the once great school in to the abyss. You will hear exactly what went on and what you paid for.

The Dark Falcon
May 20, 2014, 8:53 am
The Chooch from The Age of Reason says:
Or you'd think someone might have thought ... Why am I giving money in the first place to an institution of higher superstition when it is patently obvious that the church has nothing to do with real Brooklyn any more. With gentrification comes secular enlightenment.
May 20, 2014, 11:09 am
Been There Done That from The Apple says:
The Catholic Church in America serves two masters. Neither of which is God. It supports all things that go against the teachings of Jesus and the Commandments. The Diocese of Brooklyn and all its so called bishops etc need to find their souls which were lost long ago and take with them the wizard of school dysfunction Cha... God will deal with each of you.
To the students: My prayers go out for each one of you. Do not lose sight of your gifts, continue to go in the direction of your goals. Seek out good role models, learn all you can about them and reflect light. Let this motivate you to be good, do good and restore your faith! God has not failed you and never will. Be the change the world so desperately needs! Do NOT let them win in stealing your dreams. Stay strong and go forward in spite of those who sold their souls. Don't allow yourself to be a victim, Jesus didn't nor should you.
May 20, 2014, 11:57 am
The Chooch from The Age of Reason says:
The religiosity of native Brooklyn is alien to a great many in my community. Surely the artists and hipsters must be the most god-free demographic ever to have settled in the borough. And so I don't know whether to greet an event like this with pity or glee. Perhaps a little of both.
May 20, 2014, 9:43 pm
Bob from Dyker says:
I thought everyone knew the Catholic Church isn't a democracy. Hey, some Catholics even boast about that.

Next time, folks, read the fine print and opt for someplace that acknowledges your voice and rights.
May 21, 2014, 10:35 am
The Chooch from The Age of Reason says:
I guess that's life in what the late great Christopher Hitchens called "a celestial North Korea."
May 21, 2014, 2:30 pm
unfortunatealumni from brooklyn says:
This school was on a precipitous decline ever since the Franciscans left it in 1976. By the early 1980's it had earned the monicker of "Pill Hill" due to the rampant drug abuse. By the late 1980's it was a shell of what it had been, only surviving because the NYC Public Schools were war zones and parents still maintained a belief in the myth that Ford was still a good school. By the 1990's enrollment was lost, poor academics reigned, poor teaching was the norm and faculty abuse of students who did not play sports was on the rise.
By the mid-1990's the school had boasted a rape in the gymnasium, running youth gang infiltration and far more precipitous decline.

With the installing of Ray Nash as Principal/President, the school entered its closing chapter. His outright theft from the Underprivileged Endowment Fund to bail his failed rapper son out of foreclosure and FBI investigation into his counterfeit sports memorabilia ring as well as millions in lawsuits, marked the end. Only due to pretrial financial forensics conducted by the plaintiff against Nash's progeny was the embezzlement uncovered. Had it not been for the plaintiff's investigation into a mysterious $50,000 deposit that staved of foreclose, none of this would have ever been exposed. Nash had lone signature authorization over the school account, no oversight by any other person. Former District Attorney Charles Hynes whom Nash personally presented an award during a ceremony in the 2006-07 school year, refused to file charges. Hynes claimed that their was "no ill intent" in pulling $50,000 in donations from the UNDERPRIVILEGED ENDOWMENT FUND. Talk about qui-pro-quos. Add in another $50,000 the Bishop Ford was forced to cough up to the plaintiff suing Nash's son, as the school's money being used to bail out the defendant in their suit.

Add in more school funds for the hiring of a Public Relations firm by Nash to repair his image... All the while the Board allowed Nash to remain. One can only imagine the amount of donations that was looted over Nash's tenure in an unsupervised position where he alone had control over the school finances and has been proven propensity to help himself to school finances with no accounting or intention of repaying unless exposed.

The school ceased to be anything beyond a poor to mediocre one long ago. Students commenting on numerous websites referred to the "Bishop Ford Matrix" where they realized how poorly their academics measured up against actual good schools. It was something I learned myself in my first weeks in college.

There have also been numerous reports of abuse, paying of "ringers" to play sports for the school in addition to the Nash embezzlement. I know for a fact that one teacher is still on the staff despite inappropriate relationships with underage female students.

All of this begs the question as to why have there been no prosecution for any of the crimes committed by the staff ??

Saving this school is a waste of time. Look at the alumni participation of the classes from the past 25 years - very few of us want anything to do with this place. Any good students with decent IQs were absolutely cheated by spending time here.

Strangely, there were many comments, all with the same prose and writing style demonstrated by a longtime teacher at the school, purporting to be from "students" claiming the wonderful school Bishop Ford is. I find it highly suspect that teenagers would use terms like "school of enrichment," and others that were more of a advertising brochure than comments from 14-18-year-olds.

Even passing the campus now, the sheer decline is more than evident. Trash and debris is strewn all over the outside and it is evident the state of disrepair.

It is sad that the most outspoken against closing the school seem to be alumni from the school's heyday. They have memories of what was once a good school, sadly the school they remembered already closed long ago. The other groups are the current students who have no real world experience and are easily influenced by faculty set to lose jobs they have grown very comfortable in, to stage these protests. Students will actually be far better off attending other schools
May 23, 2014, 7:22 am
Former Falcon from Brooklyn says:
I graduated Ford in the mid 80's Played Sports - Above Average Student and made friends I still have to this day. The closing eventually came down to leadership of which the Board & School did not have. The only thing I don't understand is why the School couldn't and community demand to clean house , create a new board and leadership committee. I do not believe the Catholic Diocese does not have any more money to invest in the school . St. Pats Church in Manhattan is going under a $250M renovation by a less than ethical contractor. Would love to see the books for that project. Anyway its a shame what has happened but if the Catholic Diocese wanted to save the school it could have - anything else they say is just spin.
June 22, 2014, 7:42 am
Rip from B says:
Corruption, greed, theft, rampant abuse of kids, filthy environment, self serving megalomaniac past president who skimmed on EVERY PAYMENT, COTRACT, 'scholarship' Donation, truly ignorant 'teachers' - this 'joint' needed to be raided by law enforcement many, many years ago. Sad state of affairs when phonies in sweat shirts are left alone to rape the system, community, families even the Church.
June 22, 2014, 8:04 pm
unfortunatealumni from brooklyn says:
Rip, your comments could have been my own!

The things I have been finding out about that "school" are just disgusting, far worse than I ever imagined. A myriad of pedophilia, "teachers" who acted like the underage female students were sluts in a singles bar, the former principal/president knowingly giving awards to a pedophile teacher after he was confronted by a victim who brought the allegations to Nash himself. Franciscan Brothers witnessing teachers having sex with their students and covering it up with the child rapist left on the staff to victimize dozens of other girls until the school's closing.

There is even an investigation into the sexual abuse with Victims Services asking victims to come forward now to bring charges against these child rapists and protect society's children from becoming their next victims.

The RICO statutes definitely apply and now that Jo Hynes is finally gone there is a possibility of no more protection and interference from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.
June 24, 2014, 10:59 am
anonymous teacher from Park Slope says:
a nun at Ford was abused and threatened by the head of a department.Legal help was sought , lawyers volunteered to help her and she never asked for a dime. It's on record that this happened. And how about changing grades for the football teams. It happened,folks.It happened. Whenever we had heavy rains, it would spill down to the first and second floors and the tiles. that were soaking, fell on the students'heads. You can't believe some of the things that happened there.
June 28, 2014, 5:47 pm
Joe from Brooklyn from Bay Ridge says:
How about the lost Regent Papers in the 70's. And how about the SAT's on Saturdays.The teachers read their books or marked their own class tests while students cheated on the SAT's. Much money changed hands ??? when parents registered their sons or daughters using cash.
June 30, 2014, 11:43 am
Joe M from Bay Ridge says:
Talk to people who went to Ford in the early 70's.
One doctor who was a student in the early 70's tells of having to stay for "jug" (detention),after misbehaving etc. he was summoned with 2 other students to go up to the stage and stand there. The Franciscan Brother on duty mounted the stage, and knocked the student unconscious. Many encounters like this one were tolerated. And you have to wonder how the school even lasted this long. How about the rumor that the cash submitted by parents on registration night never saw the bank, checks yes,money order yes and credit cards ,yes. The cash was pocketed by the chosen administrators that night. Many people actually saw this.
July 1, 2014, 1:47 pm
unfortunatealumni from brooklyn says:
There is just so much that keeps coming-out, yet STILL NO PROSECUTOR? NO IRS? THEY OWED NEARLY $2MILLION in payroll taxes alone, let alone the millions stolen.

The Diocese could wash their hands of this place fast enough.

When will the dozens of victims of sexual abuse come forward? This is Joe Hynes' DA Office anymore to stonewall. Hynes himself is looking at a prison cell now.
July 1, 2014, 3:17 pm
unfortunatealumni from brooklyn says:
Is anyone else aware that the head child rapist at Ford was also tied to another school where the DA stonewalled sexual abuse, and child rape against the Dean of Students?

So much more is still to come out.

Time to pass along tips to the proper channels:

Brooklyn District Attorney's Office
Kenneth P. Thompson's
350 Jay Street
16th Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Hotline: 718-250-2340

Are you a victim of a crime? Do you have information about a crime? If so, visit or call the DA’s Action Center.
The District Attorney’s Action Center is available to assist the people of Brooklyn with criminal justice matters such as domestic violence, child abuse, school violence, immigration fraud, gun and illegal drug activity in their community and other crime-related as well as quality of life issues. Complaints can be made anonymously, over the phone or in-person.
Trained specialists in the DA’s Action Center are available to evaluate complaints and determine the next step to resolve the matter. If you or someone you know is a victim of a crime or has information about a crime, please visit, write or call:
The District Attorney’s Action Center
350 Jay Street
16th Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Hotline: 718-250-2340

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Friday - 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
July 1, 2014, 3:23 pm
James Sullivan from Ditmas Park says:
The lack of oversight by the Board as far as Nash is concerned with respect to the financial scandal is beyond a doubt true; however the Diocese saying that it did not have the funds to bail out the school is a statements I doubt especially with the 3 million dollars raised to redo Holy Name Church. The main question now is, Who is the broker of property estimated at several billion? When that transaction goes public, then everyone will find out who truly was in charge of Bishop Ford?
July 2, 2014, 8:48 pm
Maxwell from Brooklyn says:
Who would you consider to be a good teacher in this school? Coleman? Chiusano? That's about it.
July 3, 2014, 10:26 pm
unfortunatealumni from Brooklyn says:
Coleman.. definitely Coleman. He was an ace player in a last place team... Sad that he spent his career there.
July 4, 2014, 2:21 pm
Linda from Park Slope says:
James the Diocese was not involved in the school since the 70s, was found to be not operating in compliance with Canon Law, this is documented in a report published online. To say the Diocese was in charge is not correct. They were not overseeing the school. They came in to help and had already put millions in to try keeping it open. But then when they looked at the books it was such a mess they felt it was better to close. There was a lot more money missing than people realize, lots of taxes, fraudulent activity, building violations and a need for repairs, and victims of sexual abuse coming to them because the prior Board had refused to take steps to get rid of questionable faculty and staff to protect other kids still there. On top of that the union started protesting too. It really was too much. All these problems stemmed from many years,before and had compounded over time. Two consultant companies and a very vocal group of alumni did try for 4 years or more to kick out those responsible and bring reforms in but those efforts fell on deaf ears. Its not fair to blame the Diocese. It was a combination of issues and the alumni were more stuck on personalities than on what was truly going on at the school and working as a group to fix it....all the way to the second the doors closed no one could put their egos down long enough to stop pointing fingers, look at what had to be done and work together to do it. Those honest staff members, parents and kids are the ones who suffered most. But to blame the Diocese at the last minute when for several years everyone was told there were issues and asked to fix them us simply unfair.

The Diocese probably did have the money. But why should it give to dishonest hardheaded people who insult those coming in to help, when other places that need money who were honest and willing to work with them and who dont act like idiots insulting the people they want money from are clearly more deserving of that favor?
March 15, 2015, 11:18 am
Kevin from Brooklyn says:
Who and what was the sex scandals at this school
March 17, 2015, 10:25 pm
christian from brooklyn says:
When you think of the thievery, unqualified teachers, abusive behavior and blatant criminal activity that occurred at this ‘high school’ any talk of the Catholic Church making a ‘land grab’ is a story decoy. What happened in this evil den is beyond imagination. To have Ford continue with 400 students would have been anathema. Common decency called for law enforcement (in hazmat suites) to clean this rat’s nest out years ago. How one could conclude that an egotistical gym teacher ‘president’ ‘did not have intent’ when he stole hard working people’s money to fulfill his greedy needs (not just bailing out his criminal son) has to mean he was mentally incompetent, insane or a bungling nitwit. Tear down this scoundrel’s plaques from the walls of the Catholic college he disgraces.
People who claim ‘land grab’ think only in terms of money, no surprise. Could they really ‘fix’ this place and ‘clean it up’? What would it have taken? Did the Catholic Church want to continue supporting this lair of vile villains who had no shame and were incompetent cowards to the end?
This fungus-riddled building should be torn down and while the immoral doings that occurred at Ford will always exist, at least no monument will stand. Those last 400 children were saved, by God’s grace, with this long overdue and shameful closing.
March 23, 2015, 4:28 pm
TheWrathofChrist from Thefierydepths says:
The most horrifying aspect is that despite decades of documented sexual and financial crimes being committed - there has not been a single prosecution of a child rapist, child abuser, pedophile, con artist, embezzler nor thief.

Strange how the IRS has not criminally prosecuted anyone for the millions of dollars in taxes that were unpaid, donations that were "misappropriated" and school finances that were outright stolen. The wonders of NY City and State Prosecutors.

I do wonder how the multiple child rapists who serially abused teenage boys and girls have heretofore managed to escape the wraths of these children's fathers, brothers and uncles many whom do enjoy syndicate and gang affiliations. One would think that a tough guy gym teacher who diddled the niece of a gangster would have had a crippling accident by now. What wonders.
April 11, 2015, 11:56 pm
Mortis from Brooklyn says:
To show what I think of the place, when I passed this place over the weekend on Mother's Day, I went up to the door and farted on the handle.
May 13, 2015, 11:33 am
Mark from park slope says:
—— that place I always hated that school I'm so glad it went down in flames GOOD!
Aug. 5, 2016, 5:34 pm
Mark from park slope says:
F U C K that place I always hated that school I"m so glad i went down in flames GOOD!
Aug. 5, 2016, 5:35 pm

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