PORTLAND – Many Portland schools will not be celebrating Halloween this year, but parents at Buckman Arts Elementary are taking action to support the holiday tradition.
The school released a statement to parents claiming most Portland public schools would “deemphasize the celebration of Halloween” in “the spirit of equity.”
Buckman parent Shannon Brazil opposed the policy on her blog Wednesday. The complaint ignited a controversy and led parents to start a petition to bring Halloween back.
“We live in America,” parent Rebekah Clark told KGW Thursday. “We have the right and freedom to celebrate whatever we want.”
“It's safe to say that the school is not hosting any Halloween parties and that the principal has asked students not to wear costumes,” said Matt Shelby with PPS. “That said, they are hosting a harvest celebration.”
Buckman Principal Brian Anderson said the same policy was in place last year and he did not receive any complaints.
“I'm absolutely torn,” said parent Matt Callanan. “I'm a traditionalist at heart; I love the idea of my kids wearing a Halloween costume to school. But I really trust my principal's judgment.”
Other parents, who have lamented the disappearance or de-emphasis of other holidays, said the absence of trick or treat is going too far.
Shelby said the principal has asked students not to wear costumes, but there is no district directive that bans costumes. He referred parents to the dress code always in place for Portland schools.
A child who shows up for school in costume runs the risk of being sent home.
Here's the letter from Buckman Principal Brian Anderson:
For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion. There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect. The spirit of equity has led most PPS (Portland Public Schools) schools, including most elementary schools, to deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.