Controversy is embroiling a California town over allegations that elementary school teachers have been told they cannot display poinsettias or Santa Claus in their classroom over fears that it might offend people.
“District office would like to remind everyone when displaying holiday decorations in and around school to be mindful no association to any religious affiliation i.e. Santa, poinsettias, Christmas trees, etc,” read a document obtained by News 10 in Sacramento that was reportedly sent to teachers at Claudia Landeen Elementary School in Stockton, CA.
The same document said holiday decorations like snowmen and snowflakes were appropriate for grade school classrooms.
Tom Uslan, the superintendent of the Lincoln Unified School District, told News 10 “there is a myriad of religious affiliations (in the community) … we don’t want a pervasive theme of a class to be representing one religious affiliation.”
A spokesperson for the school district told Fox News & Commentary vigorously denied that any letter or communication had been sent to school teachers.
“There has been no letter from district administration,” the spokesperson said. “There has been no policy edict from our school board.”
“There was a conversation to encourage administrators that each of our employees should enjoy their religious freedoms but we don’t want to have a pervasive theme of a classroom or public office to represent a specific religious affiliation unless we are formally teaching topics regarding those affiliations.”
So does that mean teachers can decorate their classrooms with Santa Claus and poinsettias?
“Not if that’s going to be the pervasive theme,” the spokesperson told Fox News & Commentary. “That’s the operative word. If you’re going to have a pervasive theme of one culture over another, unless it’s part of the core curriculum, then we would encourage that not to be so.”
The spokesperson said Stockton is a “very, very diverse community.”
She specifically mentioned the first Sikh temple in the West is located in the city.
“We want to be respectful of all of our community,” she said. “To promote one over another in a public space or as a pervasive theme in a classroom would be inappropriate. Always be respectful.”
Still, the school district has been frustrated by what they called “sloppy” reporting on the matter.
“The encouragement was not to be Christmas cops, not to be Menorah monitors but to be sensitive and to be sure that people are respected,” the spokesperson said.