The ongoing debacle at the St. Bernard’s School, the 116-year-old private all-boys elementary and middle school just off Fifth Avenue in the heart of one of Manhattan’s wealthiest neighborhoods, can be summed up in four words: Rich people behaving badly.
The stranger-than-fiction saga unfolding on East 98th Street reached a shocking low moment in a string of shocking low moments with the late-June dismissal of Stuart H. Johnson III, the revered longtime headmaster, by the school’s board of trustees—many of whom don’t even have kids at the school—despite having reached a previous compromise with Johnson that would have allowed him to stay until June 2021 and then to retire gracefully. No more. Now he’s out. Immediately. “They’re just stirring up the hornets’ nest again,” says one Old Boy, as the school’s alumni are known.