Administrators at Pine Bush High School in New York are facing backlash after school officials allowed students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic, in honor of language appreciation week, according to TWC News.
Members of the Pine Bush community, including many outraged veterans, were present at the Pine Bush board of education meeting Tuesday night.
The district received complaints about the incident from Jewish parents and families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan.
The school board has apologized for the incident. Superintendent Joan Carbone said: “It was not a Board decision. The Board did not have knowledge that this was going to happen. It was an activity that was recommended through the National Foreign Language Association of Teachers.”
The school also issued an apology to its website.
“The intention was to promote the fact that those who speak a language other than English still pledge to salute this great country," the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to any /students, staff or community members who found this activity offensive. In our school District the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the Commissioner of Education,” as reported by Daily Mail.
Spokeswoman for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sadyia Khalique, expressed her disappointment with the reaction from the community, stating:
“When a simple student activity designed to promote mutual understanding receives such a negative reaction and the school in which it takes place is forced to issue a public apology, all Americans who value our nation’s history of religious and ethnic diversity should be concerned,” as reported by the New York Post.
Student assembly president, Andrew Zink, 18, gave permission to another student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. Zink told the Daily News, "I was expecting outrage from the student body ... I wasn't expecting it to get this big.”
Zink supported his decision by adding, “The point of reading it in another language is that it doesn't matter what language you speak.
“America is defined by what you believe, not what you speak or how you look," he added. "I wanted everyone to see this so we could see that deep cultural divide.”
Principal Aaron Hopmayer has promised that the Pledge will only be recited in English from now on.
Photo: Wikimedia, TWC News