A school in upstate New York has apologized for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic after complaints from district residents. The pledge was read in Arabic during Wednesday morning announcements at Pine Bush High School, 65 miles northwest of New York City. Some students were angered and responded with catcalls. District Superintendent Joan Carbone tells the Times Herald-Record that she has received complaints from residents who lost relatives in Afghanistan and from Jewish parents. The Arabic reading of the pledge has "divided the school in half," she says. The district says the school's foreign language department arranged to have the pledge recited in different languages for National Foreign Language Week.
Andrew Zink, the senior class president, usually gives the morning announcements and recites the pledge. He says he allowed an Arabic-speaking student to handle the pledge duties Wednesday. "The intention was to promote the fact that those who speak a language other than English still pledge to salute this great country," the district said in a statement. On the district's website, officials said they apologized "to any students, staff, or community members who found this activity disrespectful." The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations questioned the school's justification for an apology, saying the pledge was "a simple student activity designed to promote mutual understanding." (Read more Pledge of Allegiance stories.)