School cancels Halloween parade - some parents are outraged
TOWAMENCIN TWP., Pa. - October 9, 2013 (WPVI) -- A decision to cancel Halloween celebrations at an elementary school in Montgomery County is stirring controversy among some parents.
Parents received a letter Tuesday from the principal at Inglewood Elementary School.
The school is located in Towamencin Township, near Lansdale, and is part of the North Penn School District.
The letter, obtained by Action News and signed by the school's principal, Orlando Taylor, announces Taylor's decision not to hold Halloween parades or celebrations at the school this year.
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It reads in part:
"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...."
The letter references school district policy "to not sponsor or support the celebration of Halloween parades, Halloween parities, or dressing in Halloween costumes," and concludes by asking for parents' support in following the school district guidelines.
Parents are already speaking out.
One outraged parent writes, "Why deny our elementary school children this right of freedome 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."
According to the school district calendar, other North Penn schools do have Halloween events scheduled in the coming weeks.
Action News hopes to speak to district officials and more parents and students as the day progresses.
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The Halloween confusion between the North Penn School District and one of its schools spooked quite a few people this week.
Inglewood Elementary School in Montgomery County, Pa., issued a letter to parents Tuesday telling them that Halloween festivities were canceled in order to comply with a Supreme Court edict that public schools not promote any religion, WPVI reported.
"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," Principal Orlando Taylor wrote in a note obtained by the station. "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."
Some parents said the ban was brought on by political correctness.
"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?" one parent told the station.
But now it appears the controversy will vanish like a phantom in the night: Aclarification posted on the district's website explains that Inglewood's interpretation of the regulation was inaccurate.
The district says Halloween parties are permitted in the classroom during school hours, and other activities, such as parades, are OK before and after school.
The statement continues:
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 district added that while its schools teach how cultures and religions shape civilization, the curriculum has complied with federal mandates that no beliefs be favored.
So ghoul is in at this Philadelphia-area school, but some students in Canada will reportedly be without Halloween. Hastings School in Winnipeg canceled traditional festivities, as did McKay Public School in Port Colborne, Ontario.