ORANGE : School's Halloween Costume Ban Protested

Some parents of Cambridge Elementary School students complained to the school board this week about the principal's decision to ban Halloween dress-ups.

"One principal discussed this with some Christian mothers, and now the policy is to take back one of the few things kids enjoy," parent Marvin McDonald told trustees the Orange Unified School District. "Just because we're Christian does not mean we don't believe in Halloween."

Cambridge Principal Deborah Mesko said she canceled the annual dress-up and Halloween parade after a survey of the school's 30 teachers showed that the festivities distracted students from studies and caused more headaches than benefits, she said.

"There is no religious issue," said Mesko, who became principal in August. "There is no hidden agenda."

Marge Hegdahl, who has taught at Cambridge for seven years, said that in the past the costumed children would lose an entire day of instruction. "The children were too hyper and excited and couldn't focus on anything," she said. "We substituted dressing up with a small party in the afternoon."

District officials said that decisions about celebrating holidays are made individually at each school site.

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