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Petition to Oust Foul-Mouthed Priest as Principal Gets 1,800 Signatures

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 24, 2016 5:03pm
 A former St. joseph by-the-Sea student started a petition to remove Father Michaeil Reilly as principal, after a lawsuit alleged the priest hurled vulgar insults at his staff daily.
A former St. joseph by-the-Sea student started a petition to remove Father Michaeil Reilly as principal, after a lawsuit alleged the priest hurled vulgar insults at his staff daily.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — A priest accused of aiming vulgar, racist, sexist and homophobic rants at his staff is the target of a petition demanding his ouster that's been signed by 1,800 people in just a week.

St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School alum Anthony Galli started the online petition demanding the Archdiocese of New York fire Father Michael Reilly as the school's head.

"Indeed, it has been common knowledge for at least a decade among students, parents, teachers and alumni of Sea that Fr. Reilly has used vulgar, discriminatory and unchristian language in scandalizing members of the faculty, staff and community on school property, during school hours and in front of students," Galli, who was valedictorian in 2009, wrote on the petition's page.

"This conduct is both unbecoming for an educator, as well as for a Catholic priest. Fr. Reilly models and legitimates bigotry both with the priestly office he holds and with his position of administrative authority.

"His presence in the school in any capacity casts a shadow on the development of the moral character and spiritual growth of the students in Sea's charge."

Galli and the Archdiocese did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Earlier this month, three staff members at the school filed a lawsuit against Reilly for creating a hostile work environment by calling his workers "f-gs," "tw-ts" and a "vodka sh--ing b--ch," according to the lawsuit.

The suit accuses Reilly and his two "henchmen," vice-principal Robert Richard and Dean of Men Greg Manos, of trying to get rid of elderly teachers, repeatedly calling a guidance counselor a pedophile and discriminating against all three defendant's Christian religion with their vulgar language.

Former staff members, students and family members of workers took to the Change.org petition to share similar stories as the ones outlined in the suit.

"I made the mistake of scheduling a Mass on a Renewal Day (the horror) and because of that, Fr. Reilly chose one of his favorite tactics of embarrassing me in the Front Office in front of my co-workers, students and teachers," wrote a signer under the name Ellen Yates, who said she was a secretary at the school for 10 years before leaving her post in 2011.

"When I found a new position, I resigned. It broke my heart to leave my old school, the teachers I was close to, and my Sea babies. I was tired of Fr. Reilly and his degrading nicknames for all the teachers and how he made fun of others based on their heritage and looks."

The lawsuit was filed by former staff members Lawrence Boliak, Maureen Smith and Thomas Rodes.

As well as the bad language and bullying behavior, the suit says he threatened to kick one African-American teacher "back to the jungle."

"Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson, a Staten Island native and alum on the school, reacted to the lawsuit by posting a photo on Instagram of a Daily News story and wrote he's "glad something is finally being done" about Reilly.

"He is an absolute monster and has ruined that high school," Davidson wrote. "He should have been fired years ago."

After the suit went public, Reilly sent home a letter to parents calling the allegations "false and absurd" and wrote the suit has "no merit," the Staten Island Advance reported.