Thu. May 30th, 2024
alert-–-south-orange-maplewood-school-district-in-new-jersey-cancels-halloween-celebrations,-saying-it-might-be-offensive-to-people-for-cultural-and-religious-reasonsAlert – South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey CANCELS Halloween celebrations, saying it might be offensive to people for cultural and religious reasons

A New Jersey school district superintendent is facing criticism after advising parents Halloween festivities will not be going ahead in classrooms this year. 

The South Orange-Maplewood School District will not organize on-site activities due to concerns that not all families and children wish to be involved. 

As a result, all Halloween-related activities and costumes during school hours are prohibited. 

Superintendent Dr. Ronald G. Taylor sent out a letter to families on October 6 explaining his decision was made in an effort to avoid offending those of different cultures and backgrounds. 

Dr. Taylor said a survey to the principals of all ten schools in the district asked if they thought that Halloween celebrations should continue or be replaced with a ‘Fall Festival’ that would be centered around the autumn season. 

‘The responses from the principals were overwhelming in favor of discontinuing Halloween celebrations in school,’ the letter said.

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, the superintendent of the district sent out a letter (pictured) to all parents  on October 6 regarding the cancelation of Halloween 

Columbia High School (left) is one out the ten school’s in the district that won’t be participating in the holiday this year. Marshall Elementary (right) is one of the 10 total schools in the district, and one of the six elementary schools

Superintendent Dr. Ronald G. Taylor (pictured) sent out a survey to all school principals to get their opinion on celebrating the holiday before the announcement went out 

Dr. Taylor claimed that each year Halloween triggered questions from families and students about what events SOMSD would be doing to acknowledge Halloween.  

He wrote: ‘Is promoting school-sponsored Halloween activities creating indirect and unintentional financial hardships for students and families? 

‘Do school-sponsored Halloween activities violate the dignity of some of our students and families, either culturally or religiously? 

‘Does the promotion of school-sponsored Halloween activities create tensions with the equity and access values of SOMSD?’ 

After taking in the responses from other staffers, Dr. Taylor said all schools across the South Orange-Maplewood School District would celebrate Halloween this year.

He added that he is aware that ‘this may make some uncomfortable and elicit some challenges across our community.’ 

The South Orange-Maplewood School District is comprised of ten different schools ranging from an early childhood center to high school level. 

There are a total of six elementary schools: Clinton, Delia Bolden, Marshall, Seth Boyden, South Mountain, and Tuscan Elementary. 

The four other schools in the district are Montrose Early Childhood Center, South Orange Middle School, Maplewood Middle School and Columbia High School. 

Students are still allowed to partner with outside organizations to celebrate outside of school hours. 

Students in the district have been told that they cannot wear costumes or participate in any Halloween related activities or events this year 

Catherine Porter’s  (pictured)  kids graduated from the district and has thought of other ways to approach the situation,,  as she suggested collecting costume donations for those who can’t afford them

The district is one of the wealthiest in the state as less than ten percent of the 6,800 students receive free or reduced lunch, according to News12 NJ. 

Many parents have felt conflicted about the district’s decision while others have been open to the idea. 

A mom of three students in the district, Leslie Springer, told News12 NJ: ‘As a parent, I really enjoyed, at the elementary school level, the kids would do a parade, and we would get to see them in costumes. So, that was really fun.’ 

Another mother who’s kids graduated from the district has thought of another way to approach the issue.  

‘Maybe there are kids who would like to dress up for Halloween and can’t, maybe people can pull some old costumes together and there could be a donation,’ Catherine Porter said. 

Comments quickly flooded a Maplewood locals Facebook group where discussions were taking place about the decision.    

‘Long gone are the days of pagan rituals or anything more related to this celebration,’ one person said. 

‘Halloween, since I’ve been alive, means NOTHING more than children getting to wear a costume and get some candy by walking around with their friends to the neighbors houses, and saying Trick or Treat.’ 

Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Governor even had conflicting views on the decision as he took to X and said: ‘Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break.’ 

Others commenters made it clear that they were open to the idea. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has disagreed with the district’s decision  to cancel the holiday as he voiced himself about it on X (pictured) 

Tuscan Elementary (pictured) is one of the ten schools in the district not allowed to celebrate the October holiday this year

Others went to a local Facebook group and discussed the issue of Halloween being canceled 

‘Kid’s can still celebrate Halloween. This is only in the schools. It’s about equity, inclusion and respecting diversity,’ a parent stated. 

‘Not all culturals [sic] recognize or celebrate Halloween so in the past, there has been high absenteeism on that day,’ another added said. 

Someone else referred to Murphy’s stance on the decision and said: ‘One and only time I agree with the governor, “gimme a break”!.’ 

This is not the first time a school in the district has canceled Halloween, as Seth Boyden Elementary School did so back in 2015. 

The school decided to get rid of the celebration after they realized that one-fifth of the student population did not participate, according to PIX 11. 

At the time, parent Lynette Thomas said that she and other parents at the school are Pentecostal Christians and don’t celebrate the secular holiday. 

Muslims, Russian Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, certain Orthodox Jews and some Mormons are also know to not to take part in the October holiday. 

Certain cultures and religions do not celebrate Halloween and have made the decision to not send their kids to school on the holiday because of that 

Clinton Elementary (pictured) is one of the ten schools in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. There is a total of 6,800 students in the entire district 

According to Niche, the Garden State school district is rated number eight in Essex County. 

AlertContent.com has reached out to Superintendent Taylor for additional comment. 

School officials have said that celebrations for the holiday are allowed to take place in events held outside of school hours. 

The only events that are allowed in the district’s schools are fall festivals that solely celebrate the season of autumn. 

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