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Superintendent’s Apology Falls Short

To the Editor:

Much has been said recently about this issue and by now it is understood that the Children of Newtown Choir, which recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and performed on Good Morning America, is not and never claimed to be sponsored by or part of the Newtown school system.  It is an independent group of 21 children, all but one of whom live in Newtown, originated by Tim Hayes, an independent producer who wanted to do something good for the town, and directed by Sabrina Post, who operates Sabrina’s Encore Productions LLC in Newtown.   Dozens of others were involved in the project and all of them, including Ms Post and Mr Hayes, volunteered their time and talent; none received any compensation or profit.

On February 3, a different children’s chorus from Sandy Hook School performed at the Super Bowl.  The media confused the two groups but not because of anything that the Children of Newtown Choir, Ms Post, or anyone affiliated with the group said or did.  Nonetheless, School Superintendent Janet  Robinson decided to insert herself into the issue.  In a CNN interview on February 7, she professed not to know who the members of the Children of Newtown Choir were.  Worse, she questioned whether any of the children were actually from Newtown and claimed the group had misrepresented itself.  She made these statements notwithstanding the widespread publicity surrounding the Children of Newtown project and without making a simple phone call to discover the facts.  Her comments caused a media frenzy. 

Unfortunately and most undeservedly, the media directed their attention to Ms Post, casting doubt on her integrity and character.  In truth, Ms Post has exemplified the very best that Newtown has shown the world in the wake of the tragedy.  She has devoted untold amounts of time and effort teaching the Choir members, chaperoning them, coordinating the project and providing a shoulder when needed for support.  She has never asked anyone for compensation or recognition.  She has simply given of herself and her talent.  

On February 13, after the media had run with a series of negative articles and nationally televised broadcasts, Dr Robinson issued a so-called apology, which was published that week in The Newtown Bee.  Her “apology” falls short on many levels, but especially because she did not apologize to Ms Post.  She did not take responsibility for the harm she had caused to someone whose conduct was completely genuine and pure.  We deserve more from the person in whom we have entrusted our children’s education.  If Dr Robinson cannot truly recognize the damage she has caused and offer a heart-felt apology to Ms Post, how can we expect her to teach our children to apologize to those they hurt?

The Children of Newtown project was undertaken under the guidance of someone who deeply cares about this town and its children, Sabrina Post.  She did not deserve to be vilified because Dr Robinson spoke without thinking.  She deserves our appreciation for making Newtown shine.

 Sincerely,

Ellen Aho and Tim Shearin, Wendy and Marco Verga, Beth and Max Tananbaum, Eric and Susan Chanko, Caren Wellman, Michele and Alan Hankin, Matt and Martha Crebbin, Rebecca Beiter, Denise and Joe Sullivan, Christine and Herb Doscher, Kristie and Larry Petershack, Kris and Steve Powers

81 Taunton Hill Road, Newtown      February 20, 2013

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