Think back to your days in elementary school: whenever it was someone’s birthday, you got a cupcake. On Valentine’s Day, everyone gave a valentine to everyone else. On Halloween, you had a party dressed in your costume and ate too many sweets before you went out to trick-or-treat with your parents.
Some kids will not be enjoying those kind of Halloween memories; Montgomery County school district in Pennsylvania has decided not to support Halloween parades or parties at the school this year. ABC News reports that the district made the changes “to maximize instruction time in the classroom, and that school-wide Halloween activities can take place before and after school hours.”
Parents of students at Inglewood Elementary School received a letter from principal Orlando Taylor that said, "Some holidays observed in the community that are considered by many to be secular (ex. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day) 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...."
The specific religious undertones were not mentioned or clarified by the principal. In response to the outrage from parents of Inglewood Elementary students, the school district responded to this letter by clarifying their position in the following way:
“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 costumes 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 letter continued to explain that the principals of each school in the district would decide how many parties will be held. It is unclear why the Fall Festival would need to be celebrated on October 18th and not on October 31st. Parents have responded in support and opposition of the decision. Many parents are outraged and think that limiting the celebration of Halloween is infringing upon students’ rights to express themselves and celebrate American culture, while others are glad the school district has made this decision because they usually take their kids out of school on Halloween.
What do you think? Comment below!