Backlash Over Santa ‘Ban' at NYC School a Misunderstanding: Officials

Authorities say discussions about Thanksgiving and Christmas were never banned from a Brooklyn public school, and that the school had simply misinterpreted guidance for holiday displays sent to all schools that says such displays should not endorse one particular religion or belief system.

PS 169 principal Eujin Jaela Kim came under fire after the New York Post reported the principal had forbidden mention of the holidays and banned the use of Santa Claus in holiday displays.

Authorities say the backlash stemmed from a misunderstanding that has been rectified. 

Guidelines from the Department of Education state the primary purpose of any displays should be to promote understand and respect for the rights of all individuals regarding their beliefs, values and customs. They say any holiday symbol or decoration must be displayed simultaneously with other symbols and decorations that reflect different beliefs or customs. 

The school had also come under fire for ending a school-wide recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. On Monday, authorities said that after hearing concerns from the school community, it will be recited over the public address system every morning. 

“We work to foster inclusive communities in our schools that welcome students and families, and celebrate the diverse values and traditions of all New Yorkers," DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye said in a statement. "This principal continues to work closely with her school community to ensure PS 169 is an inclusive school, meet students’ and families’ needs, and celebrate the values that make her community and New York City great.”

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