On Monday, the principal at Palo Alto High School, where James Franco was once a student, made the decision that a mural which was done by the actor would be painted over in light of the recent allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor. After the initial decision had been made to remove the first mural, principal Kimberly Diorio said that she would leave the rest of the actor’s art on display, at least for the time being. While the staff and students at the high school have been debating over this decision since it was announced, it seems that it has now been decided that all of Franco’s artwork will be removed from the campus.
According to a report from SF Gate, it seems that Franco not only painted two different murals at Palo Alto High School, but he also loaned the school multiple pieces of art for its Media Arts Center. The superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified School District, Karen Hendricks, made an announcement on February 1, saying that all of James Franco’s art would be “transitioned” out of the high school.
In the statement, Hendricks said that the reason they have chosen to remove Franco’s art was because they feel it is in “the best interests of our students in the light of our educational mission.” While it had already been decided that at least one of the actor’s murals, which was located in the student center, would be painted over, according to an earlier report from SF Gate, it seems that now not only will the first mural be removed, but so will the second one, as well as all of the art that he had loaned to the school.
One of James Franco’s teachers from Palo Alto High School, Esther Wojcicki, does not support either the removal of the art or the painting over of the murals. In fact, she shared that she believes this is happening because of “pressure” from parents and other individuals outside of the school. Wojcicki said that even her students have asked how just looking at the actor’s art could possibly have an impact on them. As the teacher pointed out, allegations such as this are nothing new and, “a hundred years ago, 50 years ago, a lot of artists could have been accused of the same things Franco is. Do we take down all the art in the Louvre or in the MoMA.”
Although it seems that both students and staff at the high school are split over the decision to remove James Franco’s art and wish they could have shared their own input into what should happen with the paintings and murals, it is clear that the school and the district itself have made up their minds when it comes to “transitioning” out the actor’s art.