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Sage Canyon School’s ‘kinder team’ dressing up as witches for Halloween

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the class, a storm was stirring over Christmas present, and Christmas past.

The rhyme may sound trite, but the complaint is real from a San Diego mother who has been told by school officials she can no longer read a Christmas story to her daughter’s class, despite having the green light in recent years.

“I’m very upset with it,” Patrice Reynolds told WorldNetDaily. “I feel that my kids and other kids are being cheated and deceived. This is history, just like George Washington.”

For the past several years with the consent of the Del Mar Union School District, Reynolds has been going into one of her four children’s classes to read and discuss how her family celebrates Christmas at home. She brings a Nativity scene, and sometimes a children’s Bible or storybook to aid in discussing family traditions.

But when she called to schedule a presentation this year in her daughter Grace’s fourth-grade class at the Sage Canyon School, she was rejected, with the teacher telling her even instructors were not permitted to wear jewelry with a Christmas theme.

“They didn’t say you can’t do it because it’s a religious topic, but that’s their basis,” said Patrice’s husband Rob, a civil litigation attorney. “Not allowing anyone to talk doesn’t promote diversity, it promotes intolerance. Schools promote and talk about alternative lifestyles that are damaging, then are intolerant of your point of view.”

Sage Canyon School, serving kindergarten through sixth grade, opened in September 2000, and has an enrollment in its third year of approximately 600 students in 29 classes.

On its website, it shows both teachers and students participating in another well-known holiday with religious connotations – Halloween. Kindergarten teachers are dressed up as witches in one photograph, and costumed students are shown listening to a classroom reading in another.


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Children in costume for Halloween at Sage Canyon School

“You can’t allow discussions of certain holidays and ban discussion of others,” says Gary Kreep, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative legal-action foundation which is reviewing this case. “It’s a violation not only of California law, but also the U.S. Constitution.”

Neither Sage Canyon’s principal, Jeff Swenerton, nor the district superintendent, Tom Bishop, returned repeated requests for comment, but the district did provide a fax of its policy regarding recognition of religious beliefs and customs.

According to the policy:

  • Special school events, assemblies, concerts and programs must be designed to further the board-approved curriculum and may not focus on any one religion or religious observance;

  • School employees are permitted to teach about religious holidays but are not permitted to celebrate religious holidays during school hours;

  • School employees may not endorse, advance, or inhibit a specific religion;

  • The use of religious symbols is permissible as a teaching aid or resource. Religious symbols may be displayed on a temporary basis provided that the symbols that are displayed are examples of the cultural and religious heritage of the holiday.

“It’s perfectly acceptable to discuss holidays,” Kreep said, “just not in a proselytizing fashion. Many school districts believe they’re above the law; their arrogance just amazes me.”

The San Diego case comes on the heels of several Christmas-related battles across America last week involving government venues:

  • As WorldNetDaily was the first to report, a first-grade teacher in Sacramento Co., Calif., said her principal has prohibited instructors from uttering the word “Christmas” in class or in written materials;

  • a school superintendent in Yonkers, N.Y., banned, then unbanned, holiday decorations that contained religious themes more than the generic “season’s greetings”;

  • and a federal lawsuit was filed against New York City schools claiming the district’s policy “unlawfully discriminates against Christians” because it “prohibits the display of [Christian] Nativity scenes” in public schools during Christmas, while it “expressly permits and encourages” the display of the Jewish Menorah and the Islamic Star and Crescent during certain religious holidays and observances.

Rob Reynolds is now considering whether any legal action is necessary after his wife’s denial in southern California.

“This is starting to annoy me,” he said. “It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, I’m not gonna let it go.”

Meanwhile, in yet another anti-Christmas incident, the city of Tillamook, Ore., has ordered the removal of a lighted Nativity display from a drive-up coffee outlet, because the business’ property is leased out by the city.

“It appeared to be a conflict between church and state,” City Manager Mark Gervasi told the Headlight-Herald newspaper.

Gervasi was acting on a citizen’s complaint, and figures of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were gone by the next day.

Cheryl Hall, the owner of High Tide Espresso Drive-Thru, won’t fight the decision, stating she chooses her battles carefully. She had posted the display in memory of her infant grandson who died last February.

Hall acknowledged the principle of separation of church and state on the city-owned property, but told the paper “this isn’t a church. This isn’t a government office. It’s a drive-through espresso stand.”

She finds it ironic her other holiday decor – including lights, a candy cane and wreath – are acceptable, just not the Nativity.

“If I’d put a 50-foot snowman outside, no one would’ve said a word.”


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Previous stories:

Christmas in America becomes battleground

School bans saying ‘Christmas’

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