Too Woke For NJ? Murphy Calls Out School District For New Policy
MAPLEWOOD — A North Jersey school district's decision to ban in-school Halloween activities has caught the ire of Gov. Phil Murphy.
The South Orange-Maplewood School District banned any Halloween events at all of its schools during school hours. Schools are allowed to work with parent organizations to host events after school hours.
Students at all grade levels are also forbidden from wearing their Halloween costumes at schools in the district.
Murphy called out the decision on social media, indicating he believed it was a step too far.
"Seriously? We can't let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break," Murphy said on X, formerly Twitter, Tuesday afternoon.
Why cancel Halloween?
In a letter to parents earlier this month, Superintendent Ronald Taylor said some students may not feel included in celebrations for the spookiest of holidays.
The financial impact of Halloween on families, cultural and religious differences, and potential "tensions with the equity and access values" of the district were factors in the decision, Taylor said.
"I know this may make some uncomfortable and elicit some challenges across our
community. However, in the end, I feel these recommendations align with SOMSD’s
commitment to building equity, fostering inclusion, and building a sense of belonging
throughout our schools," Taylor said.
A spokesperson for the superintendent's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
Parents outraged over NJ schools canceling Halloween
The decision to stop kids from wearing their costumes at school and ban in-school celebrations has sparked backlash for the district.
A mom with a daughter in a district elementary school said to NJ.com that she and her classmates were disappointed by the change.
"We believe it’s important for schools to strike a balance between respecting diverse beliefs and maintaining the joyous spirit of Halloween, which can be a valuable learning experience for children," Maureen LePiane said.
One grandmother said in a Maplewood Facebook group that her 6-year-old grandson who attends the district was excited to wear his Puss in Boots costume to school.
"My children all graduated from Columbia High School, during the period when they decided holiday concerts could no longer happen. And it's continued from there. Perhaps meals served in the cafeteria should all be vegan, so those who don't eat meat are not uncomfortable. Whatever happened to live and let live?" she said.
Superintendent Taylor said to NJ.com that some negative feedback wasn't unexpected.
"But overall, most people recognize that the change is aligned with our ideals of respecting each other’s differences and maintaining the dignity of all families regardless of different beliefs while still making space for fun celebrations that bring us together," Taylor said.
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