A New Orleans charter school principal is out of a job after a video surfaced of him sporting a handful of rings associated with the white nationalist and Nazi movements.
Crescent Leadership Academy Principal Nicholas Dean was removed from his job Thursday, May 25, after photographer Abdul Aziz posted the damning video to Facebook and YouTube, NOLA.com reported. Dean’s firing came just three days after he was escorted off campus amid an investigation into a photo showing him posed next to a Confederate flag at the now-removed statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“[Dean] will not return as the principal or be associated with Crescent Leadership Academy,” the charter school’s parent group and board said in a statement.
Recovery School District Superintendent Kunjan Narechania supported the board’s decision to fire Dean, saying that the children and families of New Orleans should be able to “trust that educators value their humanity [and] respect them as individuals.”
“Educators are role models, and they should prioritize this sacred role above all else,” the superintendent said. “Any educator who is unwilling to prioritize and respect the humanity of all children has no place in schools.”
Dean has yet to comment on the matter.
Last week, the former principal told NOLA.com he went to the Lee statue only as a “student of history” and wanted to record the moment the historic statue came down, as ordered by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu. He said he wasn’t protesting on either side of the hotly debated issue and argued that the photo was taken out of context.
Dean also was interviewed two weeks prior on a podcast titled, “Guerrilla Radio: The Official Podcast of the Revolutionary Conservative,” which touts itself as a show defending Western civilization. During the almost half-hour interview, the former principal used the name Nick Andrews and mentioned he was “a leader” and “a mentor” for a charter school that enrolled mostly Black students with behavioral issues.
“So, it’s probably fair to say then, that you’re not a white supremacist or, you know, some crazy KKK member from the Confederate past?” the radio show host asked, to which Dean replied, “Not by my definition, absolutely not. But by others, most certainly.”
The ousted principal went on to describe how working in predominately Black schools spurred him to find his own identity.
“I started seeing how the Black community looked at each other and how race and tribe is so powerful for them, and I really respected that,” he said. “Even though they fight a lot, kind of tribally, there’s a sense of unity among Blacks that’s just understood. That was when I began my own kind of identity, if you will, quest.”
Fast forward to the Youtube video in question, where Dean is seen wearing rings portraying the Iron Cross, a German military design and a skull during what he described as the “Battle for New Orleans.” Aziz told The Advocate he interviewed Dean just before the May 7 event, which was marked with dueling protests over the removal of Confederate monuments across the city.
Dean also wore a baseball helmet, carried a small American flag and brandished a wooden shield etched with a symbol of ancient Sparta with the words “come” and “take.”
Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism told the newspaper that, while Spartan symbols are often used by far-right extremists, the video wasn’t enough to paint Dean as a white supremacist. Additionally, Pitcavage explained that the Iron Cross isn’t necessarily used as a hate symbol, although the German emblem is favored by those with Nazi and white supremacist leanings.
RSD’s management group, Rite of Passage, operates a number of programs for troubled youths in 16 states, according to its website. It’s unclear whether Dean will be allowed to continue working in other parts of the organization.