Earlier this week, the principal at Inglewood Elementary School in Montgomery County sent a letter home to parents telling them: There won’t be any Halloween this year. But, according to a new statement from the North Penn School District, of which Inglewood is a part, the principal was mistaken.
6 ABC got a hold of the principal’s letter, and news vans showed up at the school on Wednesday morning. The massively-trafficked Drudge Report picked up the 6 ABC story, and, naturally, the school and the district’s phones have been ringing off the hook with concerned citizens and political correctness watchdogs.
Here’s part of the principal’s letter:
Some holidays, like Halloween, that some see as secular, are viewed by others as having religious overtones. The district must always be mindful of the sensitivity of all the members of the community with regard to holidays and celebrations of a religious, cultural or secular nature. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that school districts may not endorse, prefer, favor, promote or advance any religious beliefs….
6 ABC says that one parent wrote the following complaint:
Why deny our elementary school children this right of freedom of expression and celebration of American culture/traditions that most of us experienced in school? It is understandable that academics must come first. However, there should also be opportunities for students to have fun and get the chance to celebrate diversity as well as American traditions as opposed to stripping them all away.
I spoke with multiple Inglewood parents who expressed their concern over the policy, with one parent (and Home & School Association board member) calling it “silly.”
But later on Wednesday, the North Penn School District decided to put the blame for the mess squarely on the principal, issuing the following statement:
The Inglewood Elementary School letter addressing Halloween is not an accurate representation of the school district’s administrative regulation… Schools are permitted to have Halloween parties in their classrooms during the school day and school-wide activities such as parades are permitted before and after the school day. In fact Inglewood Elementary school will hold such a Fall Festival, with Halloween costume and activities, on the evening of October 18th. Halloween and fall related activities being held at NPSD’s 18 schools include a Halloween dance, fall festivals, harvest festivals, trick or treating and more.
The regulation, which pertains to all holidays and cultural observations not just Halloween, was studied and reviewed by staff, parents and the Educational/Community/Policy Committee of the North Penn School District Board of School Directors before the changes were made this past spring. The administrative regulation is designed to preserve the greatest amount of instructional time possible for our students. As academic rigor increases for students and as state and federal expectations rise, we must continue to focus our time and resources on student achievement.
The regulation also provides guidelines on how cultural observances and religions are to be addressed instructionally during the school day. One of NPSD’s educational goals is to advance students’ knowledge and appreciation of the roles that religious and cultural heritage have played in the social historical development of our civilization. NPSD complies with the US Supreme Court ruling that school districts may not endorse, prefer, favor, promote or advance any religious beliefs.
Unfortunately, the school communication inaccurately confuses the two issues. NPSD will continue to clarify the new regulation with staff, students, parents and community members.
But don’t worry, the Christmas Party will still be the Winter Party.