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Principal explains Pledge omission

Oath omitted on 9/11 anniversary

Omitting the Pledge of Allegiance while a Muslim poem was read at Concord-
Carlisle High School on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks was “inexcusable” and the result of “poor judgment,” the school’s principal said Sunday in a letter of apology to parents.

After a backlash that extended far beyond the community, principal Peter Badalament has invited parents to a public forum Tuesday night to discuss the incident and “to begin the healing process.”

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“It is inexcusable that the Pledge of Allegiance was not recited,” Badalament said in a letter e-mailed to parents. “The choice of the poem that was read on that day displayed poor judgment on my behalf.”

During last week’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, officials decided to read the poem over the intercom to promote “cross-cultural understanding,” but the Pledge of Allegiance was not read because of a mixup with the student reader, Badalament said in a statement Thursday.

Badalament said then that officials were only thinking of the well-being of their students when they chose to read the poem, Mohja Kahf’s “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears.” The poem recounts a granddaughter’s account of watching her grandmother adhere to the religious Muslim custom of washing her feet five times a day, though it puts the pair in an awkward situation at an American department store.

In his statement Sunday, Badalament acknowledged the extent of the controversy. “I am deeply sorry for the pain that it has caused. and I am saddened that it has brought negative attention [to] our school community,” he wrote.

“When I thought about an appropriate acknowledgment of what is undoubtedly the saddest day in our collective history, I should have considered all of the impacts that reading this poem would have on the student body and community,” he said. “For many in the community, I violated the trust granted to me as the school’s leader, and I know that I will need to work hard to regain that trust in the coming days.”

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School faced criticism from students when a traditional moment of silence was left out of morning announcements on Wednesday, the anniversary of the attacks. The remembrance was held the next day.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com.
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