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After Canceling Halloween, District Could Change Stance

D-69 shocked many parents this week by canceling all Halloween costumes, parades, parties and candy for students. But the superintendent says while the decision stands for now, he will listen to feedback.

 

At this point, children who attend Skokie-Morton Grove District 69 schools are not going to be having any Halloween celebrations, wearing costumes or having any parties, candy or cupcakes.

While the district's administration announced that decision earlier this week, Superintendent Dr. Quintin Shepherd, who made the decision without any formal input from the school board, said Wednesday he would listen to feedback from parents regarding the decision. 

"Our board and I are constantly trying to seek reflective feedback," he said. "We have been responsive to the community on multiple occasions."

Earlier: District 69 cancels Halloween 

So far, Shepherd said the feedback he has received at the district's office has been split down the middle.

"Some parents adamantly disagree. Other parents called our office and said thank you for addressing something that needs to be addressed," he said.

A petition on Change.org asking the district to reinstate the Halloween celebrations at the schools garnered 201 signatures in three days. 

Reasons for stopping Halloween

Shepherd said that he had been hearing concerns from teachers and administrators that some children were uncomfortable celebrating Halloween for three years, but that other matters demanded his attention in the preceding years. 

"They noticed more students were unable to participate in Halloween activities and they asked me if there was something we could do to try to address it," he said.

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He felt this year was the right time.

He noted students could participate in Halloween activities sponsored by the Village of Skokie or the park districts. Also, Shepherd said the village of  Skokie was putting together festivities and asked if the district would like to have students create Halloween decorations.

Shepherd replied yes, they would. "Teachers can say, 'those who are comfortable with it, they can do those projects,'" he said.

No specifics on reasons

Shepherd reiterated his earlier statement that the district canceled Halloween festivities because some families felt uncomfortable with it for religious, cultural and financial reasons.

"This is a cultural sensitivity thing for us--also sort of religious cultural. There are some that don't allow for the celebration of Halloween as part of the background."

When specifically asked which religious and cultural groups objected, he declined to say.

Groups which do not celebrate Halloween

Some experts on religion say that many conservative Christian denominations do not approve of celebrating Halloween. Patch did reach one Evangelical church in Skokie, but the pastor declined to speak on the record or permit the church name to be mentioned. He did say, however, that the church does not have any Halloween celebrations.

To get a mainstream Christian perspective, we turned to Rev. Prange at Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Morton Grove, which offers a preschool and K-8 school.

"Halloween does have some history relative to the occult," he said, explaining why some Christian denominations (mainly conservative) do not observe it.

Jerusalem Lutheran celebrates with a Pumpkin Fest for its school students. It includes non-scary costumes, games and candy.

"Most people--the general population-think of Halloween as a fun time. You wear costumes, you get candy, and that's that," Prange said.

Catholics and Jews generally celebrate Halloween as a light-hearted holiday. It also dovetails with the Catholic holy days of All Saints Day, Nov. 1, and All Souls Day, Nov. 2.

In Islam, "The official position of Islam is that, because of Halloween's roots in paganism, Halloween should not be celebrated. However, most Muslim families I know do think of it as a fun tradition and don't choose to make an issue of it with their children," said Karen Hunt-Ahmad, who is involved with the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove.

Rizwan Kadir, past president of the MCC's Full-Time School board, said, "It has been a fun thing for the kids. There are Muslims who participate in it--others don't." 

An Islamic school would not celebrate it, however, because of its origins in pagan, polytheistic times, he said. Because Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the three monotheistic religions--whose people Muslims consider "people of the book"--there would be more acceptance of these religions' holidays, he indicated. 

Economic diversity

Dr. Shepherd also cited some families' concerns about expenses related to Halloween costumes and treats. 

"We've spoken to families who have said 'this puts a financial burden on our families,'" he recounted. "They're entitled to their opinion."

When it was noted that schools in poverty-stricken areas of Chicago have not banned Halloween celebrations, Shepherd replied, "I did not mean to communicate that we stopped celebrating Halloween because people are poor. We're just trying to be cognizant of a lot of diversity in our district."

When asked if the district or PTO had considered a costume closet, in which parents could donate children's outgrown costumes to be loaned or given to other students, he said that had not been discussed.

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David Zornig October 05, 2012 at 05:30 PM
@Pam Defiglio, actually the Patch Terms Of Use states: We encourage, but do not require, that the username your provide be your real name. So you are incorrect. I choose to use my real name, and actually agree that disrespectful usernames are inappropriate. But you, even as the author, cannot delete comments or deem them inappropriate on the name issue alone. Until Patch changes the Terms Of Use accordingly. Which I doubt they will do, for risk of lowering readership. @Carol, it was the manner in which Mr. Shepard made the decision that created the uproar. Not the issue of more school time spent on schoolwork. That issue was not even broached in any of the Patch articles on this subject.
ConcernedCitizen October 05, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Schools focus so much on Standardized testing and learning all the time, that there is no reason that the kids can't have 1 hour out of the school day to enjoy themselves and celebrate this American tradition that has been celebrated in schools and at home for MANY years!!!! Nothing wrong with letting children show their creative side as well. District 69 has already taken away things from our children - art, after school programs, etc.- why do they have to take this away as well! Growing up, I received a GREAT education, and we still had Halloween, Holiday Parties, etc.....Taking a small part of time out of the whole year, isn't going to hurt these children's brains!!
ConcernedCitizen October 05, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Exactly right!!! If he would have taken this to the community, this would have been handled differently!!
Pete October 05, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I agree with u David. Pam is the head communist of patch. It's hard to make Ur point when it's Pam that determines what comments get posted. I can understand. Hateful or raciest comments being takin down. But a few of mine have been erased also. And they were tasteful coments
David Zornig October 05, 2012 at 06:05 PM
@Pete, I do not condone name calling either. I was just pointing out that we should all abide by the same rules. And Pam misquoted what the username policy actually was. Here it is via Patch, under Registration: http://niles.patch.com/terms
Pete October 05, 2012 at 06:18 PM
No rat guy Ur comments are in order an respectful. But I could see some of the cry babies out there having a problem with Ur name. Even though I also think he is more than an idiot. He is an American sell out ,,, now I'm sure this comment will be deleted ,,,
jerpaul October 05, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Another group of sheltered people have come up with a harmful idea District 69 is a poor overweight typical administrative of a top heavy school system that is plaguing the nation., Boy when I was a kid all the family's from all over the world wanted to be American Now this was back in the 1950's we had little money ; lots of religion, my grandparents lived very close so Jewish culture we picked up ! Halloween is a festive Fall holiday a fun childhood experience with so many great memories why take it away ? Just Wrong next they will try to cancel Christmas cause it's too expensive!
Mr. Rats October 05, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Well Pammy did it again, she deleted all my comments and suspended my account. This is what she wrote (I think she has a crush on me): Dear User posting under the username "quentinshepardisanidiot.wordpress.com": Please stop using defamatory usernames. Your comments are welcome as long as they are not trashing somebody or making personal attacks. Please keep it civil, and then I will refrain from deleting your comments. I have suspended the user account for your gmail address. If you create another username on Patch.com, please make sure it is polite--and not attacking someone or something. You are free to criticize the school superintendent's actions--but it's not fair to call him names. Best, Pam
Mr. Rats October 05, 2012 at 08:09 PM
In the time honored tradition of tearing down our public officials who get too big for their britches, I've setup another site: http://quentinshepardisanidiot.wordpress.com I promise not to be civil on that site.
Pete October 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Lol. That's funny !!!!
Tim Deangelo October 05, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Based on the spelling, grammar, and maturity you display on that site, you should spend more time on your own education and less time modeling what cyber-bullying looks like for our students.
Mr. Rats October 05, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Tis true Tim, I'm a fat, uneducated, lazy, beer swilling, Bear loving first generation American. Although most of the time I'm speeding through things so that accounts for some of the sloppiness in my diatribes.
Mr. Rats October 05, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Also Tim, cyber-bullying is what you do to little girls and boys with crooked teeth. The superintendent is a big boy and a public figure, if he can't take the heat caused by his decision then he should get out of the frying pan or retract his decision. It's called political satire and it's been around since Adams and Jefferson.
Pam DeFiglio (Editor) October 05, 2012 at 09:43 PM
David, you are quite right about the Terms of Service. Thanks for pointing that out. I note the Terms of Service also state that users agree not to post content that "is defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive."
Pete October 05, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Wow David , she put you in your place. You might wana rewrite your comment leaving out the phase Shepard shot himself in the foot again. I think that insinuated he is an idiot. Oh wow did I just say that. If you are not gona condone name calling you might wana reread your comments before you pat your self on the back an post. ;)
s.n. October 06, 2012 at 02:05 AM
halloween will not be reinstated the board will listen to comments to consider it for next year then next year district 69 will make halloween a teacher institute day just like the high school so they can remove the whole debate.
Eric Bloom October 06, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Exercise your right to vote and vote in a new school board which will hire a new superintendent. A board that does not solicit the input of the parents of the students, because it was instructed by the superintendent to not pay regard to the parents opinion, is a not the board we need or desire. Get involved folks and run for these boards. Your children need you!
Tim Deangelo October 06, 2012 at 03:41 AM
It's not satire. It's bullying. And it's despicable. If you're an adult, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you're a child, hopefully you'll learn better someday.
M. Kim Jr. October 06, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I find it funny that the school cancelled Halloween just as the biggest new entertainment venue called Fear City.com opened up tonight in Morton Grove with pretty good sized crowd when I wend through the place. Not sure what is more frightening, the way these school boards operate and suck tax money like a hungry vampire or the haunted house I visited tonight.
jeanne pierson October 06, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I agree with Eric. If Dr. Shepard was so open to hearing feedback from the parents, why didn't he show up for the PTO meeting Thursday night?
Jason Aaron Williams October 07, 2012 at 02:23 AM
He trying to over reach his powers. He can ban it in the school not the town. From a few other artcles I am reading he is calling or the ban to efect the town as a whole
Z October 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I don't believe for a moment that the district is getting even feedback. That's a bs reply after this guy received advice from someone else.
Joe Born October 07, 2012 at 08:05 PM
agreed, there's no way its 50/50, its 87% against the ban in the other poll on this site: http://skokie.patch.com/articles/poll-should-schools-ban-halloween That being said, I don't think 50/50 should be the standard, if this was truly offensive to a meaningful minority, it would be worth a discussion, that's the nature of an inclusive society. But I don't think we have even that here. We're struggling to figure out who's even offended, frankly.
John Brinkmann October 08, 2012 at 03:18 PM
"some children were uncomfortable celebrating Halloween for three years"---"Shepherd also cited some families' concerns about expenses related to Halloween costumes and treats"---"This is a cultural sensitivity thing for us--also sort of religious cultural. There are some that don't allow for the celebration of Halloween as part of the background."----Quite possibly some of the dumbest PC comments I've ever read---I feel for you D--69---you have a real winner here with your school superintendent---but I guess it's nice he's addressed the concerns of about a 6 parents
Z October 08, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I certainly agree with Brinkmann, not to mention I am culturally insulted by stupid. Sadly stupid seems to run rampant these days.
Caitlin October 08, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Let the kids have some fun. IT'S JUST ONE DAY! This is ridiculous.
Doll B October 11, 2012 at 09:17 AM
How about asking them to vote Ham, Pepperoni, and Sausage back on the school lunch menu's? They imposed a "Pork Free District" lunch menu a number of years back which is unfair to those whose religion doesn't restrict it. How about a separate "Pork Free Option" for those who can't eat pork due to their religious dietary restrictions and a regular menu for those who aren't restricted. Doesn't seem fair to impose religious restrictions that some observe on people who don't observe them.
Lisa October 11, 2012 at 03:06 PM
The only way we even remember the children's elementary school is through the shows that they put on (pictures) Choir (pictures), Halloween (pictures) and parent teacher conferences. I don't think the real issue here is Halloween. I think the real issue is that in a world of trying to get parents and school together for the sake of the children, coopting time and resources before, during and after the school year, the administration decided to shut out parent opinion. There are alot of childrne for religious reasons who don't take certain health classes. They go to other rooms. I don't hear the school say, gee, we better not show these "health" films because of the increasing number of children whose parents don't want them to be taught about sex, homosexuals, etc. Perhaps that is next.
Z October 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I'm more interested in healthier lunches, not Ham, Pepperoni and Sausage. We already have an obesity issue in the schools and in the families.
John P Maher October 17, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Why doesn't Mr Quentin Shepard also order Mexicans to stop celebrating their festival of "Las Brujas"? Why not also ban English since it was originally the language of pagans? Oh, let's not ban Political Correctness, but have an event where we bob for apples, drink apple cider, wear funny faces and say BOO to PC charlatans?

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