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School Insists on Santa Ban but Protesting Parent Plays the Part

At a Baptist school in Tarzana, pictures of Santa Claus are about as welcome as coal in a Christmas stocking--a policy that has prompted one student’s father to dress up like the jolly old fellow and picket the school.

Administrators at Lindley Avenue Baptist School in Tarzana said they have long prohibited pictures of the gift-giver in the red suit at the school because they worry that they will distract from the religious atmosphere of Christmas.

But Bob Buckley, whose 4-year-old son, Brendan, attends the school, is so frosted about the ban that he demonstrated in front of the school Friday and Monday dressed as Santa and carrying a placard that read: “Santa Is Outlawed Here--Why?”

“My feeling is that Santa is a positive role model” for students, said Buckley, a self-employed handyman who promises to picket the school until administrators address his concern. “He is one of the first adults outside of the home that they grow to trust.”

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School administrators said they have nothing against St. Nick. They said they simply prefer to have the students concentrate on Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ.

“We are not anti-Santa, we are pro-story-of-Nativity,” said James Dean, pastor of the Lindley Avenue Church, which operates the school.

Dean said the media are doing plenty to teach children about the Santa myth, and school administrators want to use the limited time they spend with children to teach them about the birth of Christ. “This is an old policy that goes back to the beginning of the school,” he said.

Buckley said he and his wife, Linda, learned about the ban when his son asked last year whether Santa had done something bad because the boy saw no pictures of St. Nick at the school. He said the Santa ban confuses children because the school still allows teachers to decorate the classrooms with reindeer, candy canes and Christmas trees.

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