Several parents at a private school connected with the United Nations are planning to mount a protest on Monday over a planned student event with First Lady Melania Trump in New York City.
On Monday, the First Lady is expected to tour the New York Stock Exchange with a group of 10 third and fourth graders from the United Nations International School. The event, which was described as an invitation from the First Lady, has been criticized by parents at the school who say they are worried that the students will be used as a political prop for the Trump administration. The event comes during a critical week for the United Nations. Tuesday marked the start of Summit Week, where world leaders from more than 190 countries will gather for meetings.
"It’s not about Melania," said Adam Pincus, whose daughter attends the school. "It could be [Secretary of State] Pompeo. I would be just as appalled."
He continued: "These students will be used by the [Trump] administration. And I think that is bad for the image of the UNIS school."
In a story for The Cut, one mother said, “It’s our little safe haven. And this administration has attacked this haven and everything it stands for.”
Pincus said he and other parents plan to show up on Monday morning at the Stock Exchange to show their opposition to the school's participation.
In response to the uproar, the school's executive director, Daniel Brenner, on Tuesday sent a letter to parents explaining its decision to partake in the tour.
"Given who we are as a school community we considered the potentially sensitive nature of this request and how it might cause a strong reaction from some of our parents and students. At the same time, we are mindful of the fact that the United Nations stands for giving voice to differing opinions and positions and that debate and dialogue are fundamental to its core mission."
Brenner added that participation was "fully voluntary" and that over 90 families had signed up to be a part of the day.
The school did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The UN International School, which runs from pre-K to 12th grade, has roughly 1,600 students spread across a Manhattan campus on the East River and one in Queens. Tuition starts at $38,600. UN employees are offered subsidies.
Pincus said he respected the right of other families to accept the invitation from the First Lady, but that he and others felt compelled to protest on Monday so as to "create a counter voice."
He added: "I love the school. This is just a stupid thing they shouldn’t have done."