PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – Actor and director James Franco left his stamp on his Peninsula high school alma mater, but charges of misconduct led the school to remove a mural Franco painted on campus on Thursday.
Palo Alto High School is in the process of scrubbing itself clean of any reminders of one of their most famous alumni.
On Thursday, a blank wall was all that remained of a nine-foot-tall mural painted by Franco.
“I wouldn’t have thought to paint it over. But I’m glad it was done, I guess,” said Palo Alto senior Bella Trillo.
Franco painted the two black and white murals himself back in 2014.
He did it as part of the grand opening of the media arts center. He also painted a dozen more pieces to hang on the walls.
“I don’t think anyone really liked them to begin with, so nobody’s missing them,” said senior Amaya Mitchell.
Trillo was a freshman at the time, and remembers the Hollywood star being on campus.
“It was cool to see him here, and he’s definitely done a lot for our school and the arts,” said Trillo. “But the mural itself, definitely wasn’t amazing, I would say.”
The trouble began for Franco last month, when he showed up to the Golden Globes wearing a “Time’s Up” lapel pin.
Shortly after, five women accused Franco of sexually inappropriate or exploitative behavior when they worked with him as film students.
He denied the allegation on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The things that I heard on Twitter are not accurate. But, I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice, Franco said during his interview on the show.
The school’s newspaper, the Campanile, reported earlier this week that Principal Kim Diorio said, “quite a few parents and teachers” wanted to see Franco’s artwork gone.
The principal agreed, saying, “It might be a good idea to distance ourselves from Mr. Franco and some of the recent allegations that are now in the limelight.”
She continued, saying, “I hope the allegations against Mr. Franco are proven to be false. And if that’s the case, I will personally apologize to him if he feels like we overreacted.”
On Thursday, the superintendent released a statement that read in part, “The artwork was intended to be temporary in nature and would be respectfully returned or painted over at some point. 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.”
Student reaction was mixed.
“Just because he’s a famous guy and went to Paly doesn’t mean he has the right to come and have his artwork all around Paly,” said senior Darby Felter.
“It’s just best to distance ourselves as an institution. We have young kids and everybody wants to feel safe on their campus,” said Mitchell. “And we don’t know who is being affected and how they’re being affected. So I just think making it a safe environment and taking the murals down is a good choice.”