Superintendent: Trump’s Name Was Added By Teacher to Song Lyrics
In an update, a Hudson Valley Superintendent tells us teachers did insert President Trump’s name into the music that was later performed by first-graders.
On Thursday, Nassau Elementary School in Poughkeepsie held its annual "1st Grade President’s Play." The school teaches grades K-2 in the Spackenkill Union Free School District. A parent sent a video of the play to Hudson Valley Post, where it sounds like the students sing all the names of U.S. Presidents but don't mention Donald Trump.
According to the parent, his 6-year-old daughter informed him, the teacher told the class to leave Trump out. However, Spackenkill Union Free School District Superintendent Mark Villanti tells us that isn't in the case.
The music recording wasn't updated to included President Trump's name, but the "teachers did contact the commercial company requesting a copy of the updated music but were not able to acquire it," Villanti said in a letter posted on the Spackenkill Union Free School District's website, which Villanti also sent to Hudson Valley Post.
"The teachers, therefore, inserted President Trump’s name into the music, as they did in the past when President Obama’s name was not part of it. The children practiced the song with Mr. Trump’s name in it," Villanti said.
Another parent told Hudson Valley Post Trump's name was included in the song lyrics the children brought home to memorize the play.
"Trump's name is listed, and was sung in the performance. The problem was the kids sang to a track that must have been made when Obama was the most current president. The teachers had the kids add in Trump's name and changed a few of the words after, but when performing the kids may have been over powered by the backup track," the parent said to Hudson Valley Post in an email.
Each year, Nassau Elementary School hosts a first-grade celebration for Presidents Day. The play and celebration help first graders develop an appreciation for American history, officials say.
"Listening to the children sing, it is not easy to hear them singing President Trump’s name over the commercial recording. However, we know that the children were given those directions by the first-grade team," Villanti said.
Villanti stresses there was no "political bias."
"Anyone who thinks Nassau Elementary School or the District engaged in political bias during this assembly just does not have the facts. We realize that we live in a politically charged environment. If the updated recording is still not available next year, we will not include the music as part of the program to avoid a similar misunderstanding," he said.
A video sent to Hudson Valley Post of children from the same school singing the same song from 2019 also appears to leave Trump's name out. Villanti notes changes will have to be made in order for students to sing the song next year.
"In retrospect, knowing the sensitivity of the partisanship divide we should have explained possibly the reason for what may have seemed like an omission or slight of our current president. The music needs to be updated or we will not use it next year," Villanti said. "We believe that our first graders should develop a respect for American history including knowing all presidents."
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