Officials at a New Jersey school district have turned over to FoxNews.com requested copies of a notice and program for an assembly at which second-graders performed a controversial song praising President Obama, but the district has yet to produce song lyrics that, officials say, also were sent to parents.
FoxNews.com filed an open records request Oct. 19 seeking copies of materials provided to parents of students at B. Bernice Young Elementary School prior to the song's performance at the assembly in February. The song sparked a national controversy when someone posted to YouTube a video of the students performing it again, on March 23, when author Charisse Carney-Nunes visited the school in recognition of Women's History Month.
The video violated school policy, and some parents were angered that their children were recorded without their permission. Others have lambasted the school administrators for the video's message, which they say amounts to indoctrination, though other parents disagree that there was anything underhanded about the song.
Superintendent Christopher Manno, in defending the performance of the song, has said that the teacher sent the lyrics home to parents in advance, but the lyrics were nowhere in the documents released Friday to FoxNews.com.
"Please be advised that not all documents requested are available," Mary Ann Bell, business administrator for the school district, said in a written response to FoxNews.com's request. "Since this activity was conducted last year and the teacher has since retired, the original copy of the lyrics the teacher placed in each child's folder is unavailable."
Bell said in her response letter that the teacher, Elvira James, sent the lyrics home in each student's folder. FoxNews.com wasn't able to reach James for comment Friday.
"The teacher's recollection of sending the lyrics home was confirmed by some of the parents of the students in her class," the letter continued.
But Jim Pronchick, whose 8-year-old son Jimmy can be seen on the video, disputed the district's claims regarding the notices.
"We never got the lyrics," he told Foxnews.com earlier this month. "Absolutely not."
The district also released to FoxNews.com on Friday a Feb. 11 letter Principal Denise King wrote to parents informing them of Carney-Nunes' visit the following month.
"Her latest book is entitled, I Am Barack Obama, and is a simple story not much about President Obama himself but about how he realizes his power to change the world, and the same potential in all of us to do so," King says in the letter. "[Carney-Nunes] was a law school classmate of the President's at Harvard law School, so this is also an incredible chance for our students to learn more about the President of the United States. The book includes essays by children writing about what President Obama's election means to them and how it makes them think about changing the world."
The letter continues, "Students can preread a copy of the book in our library, additionally, you might ask your students to submit questions to you in advance, which you can then submit to the author when she arrives. Ms. Charisse encourages dialogue with the students and is anxious to allow students the opportunity to express themselves."
Manno said earlier this month that lyrics to the song were sent home to parents ahead of the performance, which was videotaped "without knowledge or permission" of staff members. He also dismissed allegations that the performance was an "indoctrination," saying there was nothing "systematic" about the classroom activity.
"After an investigation of this event, we found that no form of indoctrination took place, and there was no intent for indoctrination," he said. "There was no intention to make any political statement or promote a political agenda at all."