Obama speech fallout: Texas district bows out of Bush event

FORT WORTH — Six days after drawing fire for not showing President Barack Obama's speech to schoolchildren, the superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District announced Monday that he also will not be allowing 600 fifth-graders to attend a Super Bowl event next week featuring former President George W. Bush.

Jerry McCullough issued an apology last week for not allowing students to watch Obama's speech live after it was learned that the district had approved a fifth-grade field trip to the new Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 21, where Bush is scheduled to speak during a Super Bowl XLV kickoff event.

On Monday morning, McCullough announced that he has changed his mind about allowing students to attend the Super Bowl event, which he said has become a "local and national issue and a distraction for the AISD."

"I have informed the North Texas Super Bowl XLV host committee that the AISD will not participate in the kickoff event on Sept. 21 in order to maintain our focus on instruction," McCullough wrote.

McCullough said last week that he didn't allow students to watch Obama's speech live Tuesday because he didn't want to disrupt the school day. After district offices were flooded with calls from parents and media about the district's plans to allow students to hear Bush speak, McCullough issued an apology.

"In retrospect, I can see the district's decisions concerning these two events could be seen as favoring one event over another," McCullough said last week. Twenty-eight fifth-grade classes were scheduled to attend the Bush event.

The Arlington school district is midway between Dallas and Fort Worth.

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