A mural James Franco painted for his former school, Palo Alto High, has been removed in the aftermath of sexual misconduct allegations against the actor. The school further plans to take down other pieces of art donated by Franco to the media arts center, according to a statement from Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks.
“The decision to remove the mural, and now artwork, was not made lightly but we will always prioritize the physical and emotional well-being of our students over any other concerns,” Hendricks said. “District staff recently considered the best interests of our students in the light of our educational mission, and decided to remove and return the remaining artwork,” she added. “The second mural was taken down last week; our Latinos Unidos group is working with the Paly ASB and VAPA Department around the concept for a new mural to be painted. Their idea was to celebrate the rich cultural backgrounds and diversity on our campus. We are excited that they came up with this idea, and look forward to helping them with the project. Remaining Franco artwork in our MAC are also now being transitioned as we work with students on their concepts of visual arts on campus to update and provide opportunities for other artistic pieces.”
The statement did not mention the allegations against Franco, and Principal Kim Diorio told the school’s Paly Voice newspaper that none of the art pieces were “intended to be permanent.” She noted, “I made the decision we’ll take down the mural on the Student Center because I think that’s the one that’s most visible to the outside community.”
“These are still allegations,” Diorio said. “I can’t even say [the decision to replace the mural] is based on fact because he’s denied those allegations and hasn’t been charged with a crime.”
When asked if she could comment, Diorio deferred EW to Kendrick’s office, which did not immediately respond to communications.
Franco was first accused of sexual misconduct over social media last month during Golden Globes telecast, where he won best actor in a comedy for The Disaster Artist. Since then, five women came forward with claims in an article published by The Los Angeles Times.
Franco has denied the allegations, telling Stephen Colbert during an interview, “Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done. I have to do that to maintain my well being. The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate. But I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way.”