Principal Swaps Bieber's "Baby" for "God Bless the USA" at Grad Ceremony

Kids won't sing the Lee Greenwood song because the principal felt it was not appropriate

Monday, Jun 11, 2012  |  Updated 3:14 PM EDT
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No "God Bless the USA" at Graduation

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A Brooklyn principal has swapped Justin Bieber's hit "Baby" for "God Bless the USA" at a kindergarten graduation ceremony because of fears the Lee Greenwood ballad could offend people, according to a published report.

The New York Post says PS 90 principal Greta Hawkins declared "God Bless the USA" off-limits after children had already spent months learning the song.

The Post says she told teachers: "We don't want to offend other cultures."

The city is standing by her decision. Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti told the Post that "the lyrics are not age-appropriate."

And Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told the Post that the song decision is up to the principal.

“It’s important to reinforce that they start out the morning every day of the school year with the Pledge of Allegiance and ‘America the Beautiful,’ and that, to me, is what this country is about, and they celebrate that, and that’s how we should start our day," he said. “You have to really wonder about some of the lyrics in the song, so I have to rely on the principal’s judgment along that line.”

The song begins "If tomorrow all the things were gone I worked for all my life, and I had to start again, with just my children and my wife."

The song became popular during the Gulf War in the 1990s, and then again after Sept. 11.

The Bieber song, which includes, among other lines, "I'll buy you anything, I'll buy you any ring," will be sung instead.

The Post says Hawkins could not be reached for comment.

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