School District Bans Halloween Costumes At 2 NJ Elementary Schools

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — There won’t be any costumed characters roaming the halls in one northern New Jersey school district come Halloween.

Citing concerns that dressing up for the day detracts from the learning process, Springfield Superintendent Michael Davino has barred students at the district’s two elementary schools from wearing their costumes to school on Oct. 31.

Parents were notified of the decision in a letter sent out this week by the schools’ principals.

Critics unhappy with the decision had called on the Union County district’s Board of Education to reconsider the policy, saying it prevents “kids from being kids.”

But the board declined, saying Halloween has become a “social holiday,” not an educational one. They also note that students have ample time after school to celebrate the day in costume.

“It detracts from the educational day,” Board President Pat Venezia said. “I can attest to it. I was once a PTA mom who helped put on those (Halloween) parties. You lose a whole afternoon of instruction and, because kids are anticipating it, you lose part of the morning as well. That’s just how kids are.”

Officials say it’s unusual for districts to ban Halloween costumes at elementary schools, though some bar those that emulate dangerous or demeaning characters. But Acting State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf says the state has no formal policy on Halloween costumes in school, calling it “the type of matter that should be left to local decision-makers.”

Do you agree with the superintendent’s decision? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Ben

    School is not about fun, it’s about knowledge, dear parents and community leaders, let’s empower our principals to give our children knowledge especially in math and science.Not wearing halloween costume to school will not stop children from being children. No wonder our college campuses have become venues for wild parties. binge drinking,etc. No wonder, children from the Indian sub-continent and China are doing much better in math, science, and in Spelling B..

  • jb

    My daughter went to James Caldwell in Springfield and the Halloween parade was always fun – why does it seem schools are taking ALL the fun out of learning? It’s a distraction? Give me a break. If the teachers were doing their jobs, one day of distraction wouldn’t make a difference.

  • rob

    what a tool

  • Bklyn Mom

    At least in NJ they are allowed to call it Halloween! Here in NYC, we don’t even have a Halloween party after school. We have a “costume carnival”. Thank you DOE and former Chancellor Klein.

    • Grouchy

      Bklyn Mom, given your comment below addressing the crucial importance of good grammar, the content of your initial comment above was completely obscured by the violation of the grammar rule that specifies where to place a punctuation mark next to a quotation mark. Silly girl, the period goes inside the quotation mark. Once I made that correction mentally, it became apparent that your comment has merit. As much as you may be fed up with Brooklyn schools, the Chancellor and the DOE (frustration with the latter I certainly share with you), please don’t move your brood to NJ. My relatives there have been fighting hard to improve local school test scores and don’t need any new challenges.

      • Pete

        Grouchy, maybe one day you will realize that pseudo-intellectuals such as yourself are the very reason for many of the world’s problems both directly and indirectly. Don’t forget to spell and grammar check MY comment too. By the way you sound like a teacher. Just remember those who can’t do … ‘teach’. I bet I am far more successful than you because you cannot ‘teach’ in-born inelegance.

        • Pete

          Grumpy …before you say it … I KNOW I accidentally left out the “T” in intelligence. So let us hear you whine now about a ‘typo’.

  • educator with heart

    I am a teacher and I have a principal that won’t allow costumes as well. I use the party as an incentive for the students to do all their work, study and have good behavior. Those that don’t follow the rules get to work and watch while the others enjoy their day. Believe me, they more than make up the work because they are more focused during the other days because they want to be part of it. After the Halloween party, I have few students that allow themselves to miss any other celebrations. Education is very important, but kids need to learn life lessons as well through having fun in a social behavior and field trips. My class gets the best grades on the state exams and I truly believe its because I educate them as a whole, not just from books.

    • Bklyn Mom

      Wow, you’re a teacher? I found at least 3 grammatical mistakes in your post! I’m sure glad you don’t teach my children!

      • Grouchy

        Bklyn Mom, you win the contest for biggest loser, irrelevant, mean-spirited comment. Hey, grammar snob, don’t you know that proper grammar dictates spelling out the word “three” instead of using the numeral 3? Just for good measure, let’s throw in gratuitous overuse of exclamation points!!!!!! Parent-teacher conferences with you must be dreamy. I’m sure glad you’re not my mom.
        Educator with heart, I appreciated your approach to Halloween festivities. Keep on keeping it real.

        • jb

          Wow, you really are Grouchy.

  • Jim

    I don’t think a few hours to celebrate holloween is going to determine an student to get A’s or B’s, or whether their going to attend Harvard or a community college. If it does why are teachers allowed to use the last few days of the school year to pack up their books?

  • Shawn Ryu

    I understand banning costumes in high school, but why in elementary?

  • emjayay

    When I was in grade school no one thought of wearing a costume to school. That was for trick and treating at night, with maybe a party at the school, also in the evening. So, what’s the problem? I guess over the years it’s become an all day event, impacting instruction.

  • John Marin

    I think this is sheer nonsense and self serving hypocrisy on the part of pseudo educators who identify learning with haberdashery. This event called Halloween while not an official holiday with closed banks status is one where the young and even the elderly get an opportunity to fantasize with externals of masks, costumes and of course social fetishes such as candy exchanges and rumored will of the wisps ghosts and macabre characters mostly imaginary. It’s nice to be a kid even if the theme is a forbidding one.

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