Principal in Brooklyn bans nearly all school holiday celebrations

SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- You can't say "Merry Christmas" or even have an image of an angel or star after a principal in Brooklyn bans nearly all celebrations.

It's a new policy upsetting teachers, parents, and students at PS 169 in Sunset Park.

Principal Eujin Jaela Kim has reportedly said this was all done in the interest of diversity and inclusion, but many of the parents and teachers Eyewitness News had a chance to talk with said that they now feel excluded.

They feel that their traditions are no longer being recognized and they are not happy about it.

"It made the school feel more like a second home, but now it just feels like normal school, doesn't have much life to it," said Yasmin Lucero, a 5th grader.

"I think that's wrong. I mean, I used to go to this school, so to change that all around, I don't think that's right at all," said Deboroah Mendez, a parent.

"I'm surprised. Probably I'm going to go to the Board of Education and make a complaint about this because that's not fair," said Dalia Sierra, a parent.

Now, there has also been a report that the principal also put a ban on Thanksgiving and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Late Monday afternoon, the Board of Education released a statement saying that was absolutely not true.

In that statement, it also said that there had been some confusion when it came to whether or not Santa could be a part of celebrations there, whether Santa was religious or secular.

"We work to foster inclusive communities in our schools that welcome students and families, and celebrate the diverse values and traditions of all New Yorkers. This principal continues to work closely with her school community to ensure PS 169 is an inclusive school, meet students' and families' needs, and celebrate the values that make her community and New York City great," said Devora Kaye, a DOE spokesperson.

"Probably she was misguided or misunderstood the policy on how to execute and implement," Assem. Felix Ortiz said.

Ortiz represents the area in Albany and has visited PS 169 dressed as Santa in years past. He says he'll be doing it again.

Guidelines for Holiday Displays by the DOE
Please be aware of and sensitive to the significance of seasonal observances and religious holidays as you work to foster mutual understanding and respect for your community's diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural heritages. Public schools may not endorse or promote a particular religion or belief system. As we head into the holiday season, please share these guidelines regarding the display of cultural and holiday symbols with your staff:

- The primary purpose of any displays should be to promote understanding and respect for the rights of all individuals regarding their beliefs, values, and customs.
- The display of holiday symbol decorations with secular dimensions is permitted. Permitted symbols include, but are not limited to, Christmas trees, kinaras, dreidels, menorahs, and the Star and Crescent. Displays that depict images of deities, other religious figures, or religious texts are prohibited.
- Holiday displays must not appear to promote or celebrate any single religion or holiday; therefore, any permitted symbol or decoration must be displayed simultaneously with other symbols or decorations that reflect different beliefs or customs.
- All holiday displays should be temporary in nature.
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