The superintendent of the Newtown, CT school district has voiced concern that a group referred to as the Newtown children’s choir, which is now scheduled to sing at the Grammy Awards, may have been misrepresented by the choir’s director.
Superintendent Janet Robinson, who heads the school district in which 20 children and six women were killed in a shooting rampage in December, said some parents from Newtown called her office with concerns about Sabrina Post, the choir’s organizer, and Post’s history with the school system. The parents reportedly also expressed confusion about whether Post’s choir includes the same students who appeared in a chorus that performed at the Super Bowl.
Post, who runs a performing arts studio in Newtown, was a former Newtown High School choral director prior to being charged with stealing from the school district by using fraudulent expense vouchers. She was placed on administrative leave in February 2005, and then resigned the following June after she paid the school board $11,000.
The Newtown children’s choir, which first appeared after the horrific shooting incident, made its debut singing Over the Rainbow with Ingrid Michaelson, and Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads, on Good Morning America. Recordings of that performance are sold on Amazon and iTunes, with proceeds directed to the United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Youth Academy.
The choir also recently performed at a New York Knicks game and at a benefit concert that featured artists including Paul Simon and Johnny Winter.
“I just know that I’ve got a lot of people saying, ‘They’re on Good Morning America. These aren’t our kids. Why are they using this name?’” Robinson said.
Robinson has reportedly asked the group to stop performing.
Post, however, who said she was contacted by Good Morning America and asked to organize the choir, defended her work and asserted that all the children are students of her studio.
“Everything is done by the book,” Post told the Hartford Courant.
Tim Hayes, who produced the Over the Rainbow endeavor, said he received an email from Robinson telling him to stop working with Post.
“I’m a little sad that someone’s personal vendetta is muddying something that’s completely transparent,” Hayes said. “She [Robinson] attacked Sabrina and the integrity of 21 little kids.”
Hayes said that Robinson’s office had supported the project but did not have the ability to carry it out, a situation that led him ultimately to Post’s performance studio.
“Sabrina picked up the phone and offered to volunteer her time, her space,” said Hayes. He added that Post “never has an opportunity to touch any of the money.”
Some Newtown residents are reportedly not concerned that the children’s choir that is being featured in some national venues since the school shooting is not from Sandy Hook Elementary School, yet is raising money in its name.
Carol Lawson, a resident of Newtown, defended Post.
“I feel that Sabrina Post and her group - she’s very professional, she’s very caring, she’s been very involved with the children. And I feel you can’t exploit children without parents’ permission. She is not exploiting those children because those parents would not allow [them] to go to sing with her.”
Post’s choir will have its live appearance during the E! Network’s Grammy Awards preshow on Sunday. American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will fly a crew to Connecticut so that he can interview the children via satellite. The children will reportedly sing Carly Rae Jepson’s hit song, “Call Me Maybe.”