Elkhorn Public Schools Addresses Christmas Decorations Ban

A controversy over Christmas decorations being allowed in an Elkhorn elementary school has led to an apology from the principal of Manchester Elementary School.

Parents received an email from the principal apologizing for a memo sent to staff last week.  The memo stated Principal Jennifer Sinclair came from a place where Christmas was not allowed in schools, which is why she laid out what could and could not be allowed in classrooms. She stated she wanted to be inclusive and culturally sensitive to all students. 

The list stated items like Santa or Christmas items, Christmas trees, playing Christmas music and Elf on the Shelf were not allowed. Candy canes weren’t allowed either because they historically represent Christ. 

The memo, though not made public until a later published article, does not sit well with some parents. "I feel like it was very deliberate and intentional about eliminating just Christmas and putting an attack on what Christmas is and what it stands for,” parent Jenni Myers told 6 News. 

The district has resolved the issue, saying Principal Sinclair’s memo does not fall under the district’s policy.  In a statement, the district said: “Elkhorn Public Schools District administration promptly addressed the issue at Manchester Elementary School regarding the memo that was sent by the principal to Manchester elementary staff.  The memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school.  The District has since clarified expectations and provided further direction to staff in alignment with District policy.  This issue was limited to Manchester Elementary School and did not arise at any other schools within the District.”

Though some parents like Myers are happy the district resolved the situation, they say they hope to be made aware of big changes in the future. 

"If a school's going to be able to eliminate everything about Christmas, it may not stop there,” Myers said. "If a principal is going to make such a drastic policy as that, I would think that it would be good for the parents to be aware of a policy that was being made of completely taking Christmas out of a school."

Principal Sinclair sent out an email to parents Wednesday notifying them of the situation, but the email wasn’t entirely clear, leaving some parents confused. 

The email said, in part, “Last week, in an attempt to provide clarity, I mistakenly sent out an internal staff memo detailing what can and cannot be done in a public school surrounding the holiday season.” 

It continues, “I wanted to reach out and make sure our families understand what occurred, and what has been done to correct the issue. I understand that the information I initially provide was incorrect and I sincerely apologize for any confusion of concern this has caused and the negative attention this issue brings to the District and Manchester.”

The district said the memo was only at Manchester Elementary School. 

(Photo: 6 News)

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