Tampa parents sue Academy of the Holy Names, question Catholic school’s teachings

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA/AP) – A Tampa couple is suing a Catholic school and demanding the return of a large donation, saying it isn’t adhering to Catholic values because of the way it’s handling issues like race and accepting the LGBTQ community.

Anthony and Barbara Scarpo filed their lawsuit against the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa last month. It comes four years after the couple pledged $1.35 million to the school. 

The couple claims the school has “lost its way” by embracing a “woke culture” where priority is given to “gender identity, human sexuality and pregnancy termination among other hot button issues.”

Attorney Adam Levine is representing the Scarpo family in the lawsuit and says the focus of the school’s education has changed.

“The school shifted from offering a Catholic education to offering a much more liberal, much more secular education, where the education started to leave out anything related to the church,” said Levine.

The family’s attorney says they are not opposed to the issues being presented, but they do believe they should be presented along with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“This is not about, we’re not allowed to talk about same-sex marriage. This is all about if you are going to talk about it, and you are going to educate our students about it, at least provide the church’s position on same-sex marriages,” said Levine.

A spokesperson for the school issued a statement, saying;

“The Academy’s curriculum is, and always has been, based on Catholic values and rigorous academic standards. Our graduates have earned admittance to many of the best colleges and universities in America and matriculate prepared for rich and rewarding lives. 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. They live each day promoting their core values, which are at the heart of their charism. Special concern for poor and marginalized people, women and children characterizes their ministry in every setting.”

A letter from an attorney for the school to Adam Levine calls the lawsuit a publicity stunt and claims the allegations in the lawsuit are “grossly incorrect as a factual matter and will be proven as such.”

The attorney for the school says if the family’s lawsuit moves forward the school will file a counter lawsuit for the balance of the $1.3 million donation that was pledged.

Levine says the lawsuit was never about the money, only the values the Scarpo family would like to see taught.

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