One of the most prominent school athletic officials in New Jersey apologized on Tuesday after he gave a guest speech at a high school in which he called Adolf Hitler a “good leader,” the Associated Press reported.
The official, Nutley High School Athletic Director Joe Piro, admitted Tuesday that he had made the remark while speaking to student athletes at Madison High School in Madison, NJ, according to NJ.com.
NJ.com originally reported the student athletes had convened for the assembly on Saturday to learn about “positive leadership values and a culture of sportsmanship,” according to a letter from Madison Superintendent Mark Schwarz to parents on Sunday.
In the presentation, Piro showed images of historic leaders, but at one point showed a photo of Hitler next to Martin Luther King Jr. Piro then described Hitler as having been a “good leader” who had “bad moral character and intentions.”
“The presentation was not to offend anyone in or outside the Madison public school district. I am truly sorry if I did,” Piro said in his apology. “As a 20-year educator who has worked with a wide variety of students that come from very diverse backgrounds, I fully understand and recognize that Adolf Hitler was an evil man who used his skills in a horrific manner.”
After the presentation, some students and parents “voiced serious concerns that the speaker referred to Hitler as a ‘good leader’ in any regard,” Schwartz wrote in the letter. The presentation was not approved in advance, he said, and was “unnecessarily provocative and insensitive.”
Schwartz’s letter, co-signed by three other administrators, didn’t identify Piro as the guest speaker, but wrote that future presentations from speakers or vendors outside the district would be screened in advance by an administrator.