By LAURA COX
PUBLISHED: 08:42 EST, 10 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:32 EST, 10 June 2012
A New York principle has sparked fury among parents, students and teachers after banning a patriotic song from being sung at graduation.
Kindergartners at PS 90, the Edna Cohen School in Coney Island will not be allowed to sing ‘God Bless the USA’ at their moving-up ceremony because principle Greta Hawkins has decided it is inappropriate.
The lyrics, she says could ‘offend other cultures’ and are ‘too grown-up’ for five-year-olds.
Greta Hawkins, principle at PS 90, the Edna Cohen School in Coney Island, has banned ‘God Bless the USA’ from being sung at graduation
Controversially, Hawkins is allowing alternatives including ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber, with flirty lyrics such as: ‘Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.’
In past years the kids would sing the song with pride at the end of their June 20 commencement, waving tiny American flags, all dressed up for the occasion.
But Hawkins has pulled the plug on their patriotism, much to the annoyance of many parents.
‘A lot of people fought to move to America to live freely, so that song should be sung with a whole lot of pride,’ mom Luz Lozada told the New York Post.
She recalled one of her children singing the song at last year’s celebration.
Tradition: Students at PS 90, the Edna Cohen School (pictured) recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning
‘Everybody applauded and whistled,’ she said. ‘They gave it a standing ovation.’
It is not the first time that Hawkins, a Jehovas Witness, has tried to stamp down on the school’s patriotic rituals.
A few years ago she tried to end the tradition of students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing ‘America the Beautiful’.
Staff objected and she was forced to back down but it has been noted that she does not herself recite the pledge because of her religious beliefs.
She has in the past been called a tyrant and bully by staffers and was reprimanded in 2010 by the Department of Education after complaints arose that she had called the school racist.
‘I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming,’ she is alleged to have said.