Principal Who Banned "God Bless the USA" at Grad Ceremony Nixes Bieber Replacement

Greta Hawkins had scrapped "God Bless the USA," fearing it could offend people

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012  |  Updated 9:25 AM EDT
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Students at a Brooklyn school will not sing Justin Bieber's "Baby" at their kindergarten graduation ceremony after their principal's decision to swap in the pop music hit for "God Bless the USA" drew public ire. 

Mayor Bloomberg announced the program change Monday, according to The New York Post, which first reported the story. 

The Post had said PS 90 principal Greta Hawkins declared "God Bless the USA" off-limits after children had already spent months learning the song, telling teachers the Lee Greenwood ballad could offend other cultures. 

Her decision to replace it with "Baby" was met with controversy, and by Monday afternoon, Bloomberg said she had had a change of heart and decided the song was not age-appropriate for the students, the Post reported.

Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott stressed they did not push Hawkins to pull "Baby," and both expressed "support for our principals" when making such decisions. 

"God Bless the USA" will not return to the program, however, a decision that has the man who's been singing it for the last 30 years frustrated. Greenwood told the Post he thought Hawkins was confusing allegiance with worship and was disappointed that she chose not to include the ballad in the ceremony. 

"I don't think it's a religious issue to salute the flag. You always respect the flag," Greenwood told the Post. 

Queens Councilman Peter Vallone has launched a Facebook campaign to garner public support to reinstate the song. 

The Post says Hawkins could not be reached for comment.

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