School principal issues apology after students say Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish

A Fairfax County high school principal is apologizing after a plan to have students say the Pledge of Allegiance in different languages was not well-received.

A parent tells FOX 5 the program was canceled just a couple days after it started.

The pledge is a long-standing tradition at congressional sessions, government meetings, naturalization ceremonies and in most public schools across the country.

However, the Pledge of Allegiance sounded a little different last week at Westfield High school in Chantilly as the principal introduced a program to have students learn the pledge in various languages.

Fairfax County parent Stephanie Somers says her son, a senior, was excited to recite the pledge in Spanish on Monday.

"They had a native Spanish speaker read it Tuesday. End of the school day Tuesday afternoon, the principal comes on and said, 'He was sorry.' He was sorry and didn't want it to be offensive," said Somers.

She says the school ended the program.

"It was my understanding it would be Spanish, French and German, and I think there's 80-90 different languages at this school and I thought that would be a cool thing," said Somers.

She says she liked the program and was surprised to see it end so suddenly.

"It's inclusive, it's making them proud of their heritage and their ethnicity," she said. "So I was surprised instead of continuing it, they were nixing it and an apology. Didn't seem right to me."

Fairfax County Public Schools sent FOX 5 a statement that reads in part:

"A school administrator suggested students lead the pledge in Spanish to promote engagement and inclusion. Administrators believed this was an opportunity for other voices and languages to be heard and recognize the school diversity."

Meanwhile, Somers believes complaints led to the cancellation, and is puzzled by the negative reaction.

"What is the harm in saying the Pledge of Allegiance in many different languages to make everyone feel it, love it and know it? I don't understand," she said.

The school district disputes that the initiative was canceled, saying it was only to last the two days before Thanksgiving. However, they said, "communicating in advance the intent of an activity with parents and students will help ensure the exercise meets it's stated goal."