New York Daily News: A controversial Coney Island principal who grabbed headlines for banning the patriotic tune “God Bless the U.S.A.” from an end-of-year kindergarten ceremony in 2012 is at it again, school staffers told the Daily News.
Public School 90 boss Greta Hawkins on Monday killed a plan for pre-K students to march into an end-of-year celebration carrying flags to a song called “Stand Up for the Red, White and Blue,” teachers said.
Hawkins, 49, of Brooklyn, told teachers she banished the patriotic display planned for the June 19 festivities because the staffers who organized it didn’t ask her permission.
But staffers said their principal’s history of banning patriotic music from school events suggests that her motivations might have been something else entirely.
Teachers said that they had planned to start the end-of-year ceremony for the school’s 54 pre-K students with the kids marching into an assembly carrying American flags while “Stand Up for the Red, White and Blue,” played over a public address system.
The children’s song includes patriotic lines such as, “I’ll always do my part, I love my land that’s free.”
But the program struck a sour note with Hawkins, staffers said, who barred both the flags and the tune from the upcoming ceremony.
Teachers at the school said they don’t know what they will do for the ceremony now.
Hawkins didn’t return calls for comment, but an Education Department spokeswoman said she insists the song was never on the program or requested.
Hawkins, a former teacher who has worked in the city schools for two decades, has warred with members of her staff since she came to Public School 90 in 2009.
In 2010, she received a disciplinary letter for making remarks that offended some staffers at a school meeting. She drew fire in 2012 for refusing to let students sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood because she objected to the lyrics.
Critics said she didn’t like the song because she found the words to be too aggressive.
From Inside Schools (an independent guide to NY schools):
“Greta Hawkins, principal since 2009, has made some controversial decisions. In 2010, she was disciplined by the city for making racist remarks. In 2012 she offended parents when she didn’t allow kindergarten students to sing a patriotic song at their stepping-up graduation. She also curtailed the 5th grade graduation because she said there were too many disruptive students. Some parents complained when a teacher told children they could only use the bathroom three times a week.
Many teachers who took the Learning Environment Survey said they mistrust the principal and do not think she is an effective leader. Only 60 percent of teachers responding to the survey said administrators let staff know what is expected of them, 50 percent say they are not giving a decision-making role, and 47 percent say that that order and discipline are not maintained.”