The Lookout

Middle school to paint over Paterno mural

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Paterno shown in a mural in downtown State College, Pa., July 12, 2012. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

While officials at Penn State University struggle over what to do about the statue of Joe Paterno, a middle school in Connecticut wasted little time in coming to a decision about a mural featuring the late, disgraced former football coach.

The Great Oak Middle School mural will be painted over before the start of the school year, Board of Education officials in Oxford, Conn., announced this week. The decision to paint over the mural comes a week after a damning 267-page report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, which concluded Paterno concealed information about former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of underage boys.

"We decided to wait until all the facts were out and the report was complete before we made a decision," board head Paula Guillet told "We have to put the kids first, and given the circumstances, that's the decision we reached."

The Paterno mural is part of the school's "Wall of Heroes," which includes paintings of John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

On Tuesday, a plane circled over the Penn State campus, dragging a banner that read: "Take the statue down or we will." But administrators said no decision has been made about the statue, which stands outside the school's football stadium.

Last week, following the release of the Freeh report, an artist removed a halo that had been painted above a mural of Paterno in State College, Pa., after his death in January. The artist, Michael Pilato, replaced it with a blue ribbon on Paterno's lapel in honor of Sandusky's victims.

Sandusky was removed from the downtown mural last year.

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