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Concord-Carlisle High's principal calls absence of Pledge on 9/11 anniversary 'inexcusable'

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  September 16, 2013 11:50 AM

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After Concord-Carlisle High School received backlash for reciting a Muslim poem but not the Pledge of Allegiance on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the school's principal called the decision "inexcusable" and the result of "poor judgment" in an e-mail apologizing to parents Sunday.

"It is inexcusable that the Pledge of Allegiance was not recited," said principal Peter Badalament in the letter. "The choice of the poem that was read on that day displayed poor judgment on my behalf."

Badalament also invited parents to a public forum Tuesday night to discuss the accident and "to begin the healing process."

During last week's anniversary of 9/11, officials decided to read the poem to promote "cross-cultural understanding," but the Pledge of Allegiance was not read because of a mixup with the student reader, Badalament said in a statement Thursday.

He said last week the incident "outraged a small number of members of our community," noting also that it sparked a handful of calls and about 10 emails from unhappy parents as of Thursday afternoon.

"When I thought about an appropriate acknowledgement of what is undoubtedly the saddest day in our collective history, I should have considered all of the impacts that reading this poem would have on the student body and community," he said in the most recent letter.

Badalament said that despite his intentions to remember those who suffered or died as a result of 9/11, "the mistakes that led to the Pledge not being recited and the choice of the poem meant that I did not accomplish my goal. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred and for that, I am very sorry."

Badalament said officials were only thinking of the well-being of their students when they chose to read the poem, Mohja Kahf's "My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears." The poem recounts a granddaughter's account of watching her grandmother adhere to the religious Muslim custom of washing her feet five times a day, though it puts the pair in an awkward situation at an American department store.

"For many in the community, I violated the trust granted to me as the school’s leader and I know that I will need to work hard to regain that trust in the coming days," Badalament said in his Sunday letter.

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Follow Jaclyn Reiss on Twitter: @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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