New York City — A public school principal accused of paying a woman to sprinkle chicken blood on the high school in an attempt to cleanse it of negative energy will be fired, the Department of Education said Tuesday.
Maritza Tamayo, principal of the Unity Center for Urban Technologies, paid a woman named Gilda Fonte to lead several Santeria rituals at the Manhattan school during midwinter break in 2006, when students were not there, according to Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for city schools.
A former assistant principal, Melody Crooks-Simpson, said there was a running joke at the school that sage should be used to cleanse the building because many of the students were ill-behaved. But it seems Tamayo took it seriously, Crooks-Simpson told investigators, and had Fonte lead a ceremony at which she sprinkled chicken blood on the building.
Tamayo coerced staff members to participate in and help pay for the ceremonies, investigators said.
Santeria is a blend of traditional African religions and Catholicism and first was practiced in the Caribbean by slaves who were prohibited from worshipping in other religions.