No Halloween costumes, schools tell students

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This Halloween, no ninjas are allowed. And no cats, fairy princesses or Dracula either, according to a New Jersey school official whose ban on Halloween costumes in his district has earned him the wrath of teachers and at least one nickname: the Ingrate Pumpkin.

Other schools across the nation are taking a similar approach.

Superintendent Michael Davino imposed the ban at Springfield’s elementary schools, effective next Monday, saying costumes deter from learning and that Halloween fun should be enjoyed after classes.

Nobody can argue against the need for a good education, but as the Star-Ledger reported, parents and some children see Davino as the grinch who stole Halloween, regarding the apparently unexpected ruling as somewhat draconian.


The newspaper even published an editorial against the ban. ‘You’ve heard of the Great Pumpkin? Meet the Ingrate Pumpkin,’ it said, speculating on the reason behind Davino’s move. ‘We wonder: Did a big kid mug Davino and take his candy when he was 11?’

Some parents say the ban is misguided and that, if done properly, costumes can be a used as a learning tool. But other school officials in New Jersey are imposing their own rules against Halloween on campus, and districts in other parts of the country are doing the same.

‘Imagine trying to run a chemistry, algebra or history class for students wearing rubber Dracula masks,’ Patrick Martin, superintendent of schools in Union Township, N.J., said in the Star-Ledger account. There, high school students are being asked not to wear costumes to class.

In Portland, Ore., principal Brian Anderson of Buckman Elementary School also has banned costumes in the name of ‘equity,’ telling parents in a letter that pupils who cannot dress up for financial, cultural or other reasons would feel excluded if costumes were allowed.

Elsewhere, some schools have cited health concerns -- too much candy and sugar at Halloween parties -- for ending the tradition of setting aside class time to mark the day.

The rulings have angered some parents, prompting complaints that they are a sign of the country’s obsession with being politically correct. But school officials aren’t budging.

‘It detracts from the educational day,’ the Springfield school board president, Pat Venezia, told the Star-Ledger. Venezia is a former PTA mom who used to help organize Halloween parties at school. ‘You lose a whole afternoon of instruction, and because kids are anticipating it, you lose part of the morning as well. That’s just how kids are.’

— Tina Susman in New York


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