No Halloween celebrations in schools this year

The South Orange Maplewood School District has decided to not allow Halloween celebrations this year.

MAPLEWOOD — There will be no Halloween celebrations in South Orange Maplewood School District schools this year.

Ronald G. Taylor, Superintendent of the South Orange & Maplewood School District, sent a letter to families today explaining why any Halloween celebrations in the District this month will have to be held after school hours.

“Each year, questions arise from families, students and staff about what SOMSD schools will be doing regarding Halloween,” Taylor wrote. “Is promoting school-sponsored Halloween activities creating indirect and unintentional financial hardships for students and families? Do school-sponsored Halloween activities violate the dignity of some of our students and families, either culturally or religiously? Does the promotion of school-sponsored Halloween activities create tensions with the equity and access values of SOMSD?”

After the District’s administration considered these questions, a survey of school principals was taken in which they were asked whether school-sponsored Halloween celebrations should continue, or if different celebrations should be held such as a Fall Festival that would have student-centered activities that focus more on the season of autumn. The responses from the principals were overwhelming in favor of discontinuing Halloween celebrations in school.

“All of us realize that this breaks with what the District has usually done and that can be a difficult thing to do sometimes,” said Kevin Gilbert, assistant superintendent of access and equity. “Often, working to instill greater equity in our district begins with recognizing that we cannot do what we have always done. But with this decision, we are taking a step closer to upholding our community’s access and equity values.”

In his letter, Taylor said that Halloween celebrations could be held at schools as long as they were held after school hours. He also noted that they could be held in partnership with an affiliated organization such as schools’ parent-teacher groups.