SKOKIE – District 69 won’t be providing any ‘treats’ to their students for Halloween moving forward. The school district has decided to ban the holiday.
“There will be no costumes, no candy bags, no parties,” said District 69 Superintendent Quintin Shepherd.
Shepherd said his staff has discussed the idea of banning Halloween for about three years. He added that he spoke to families who were against the holiday during that process. However, Shepherd noted he did not seek input from the community as a whole, adding that it would not have achieved anything in the end.
“Frankly, I did not want to waste their [the community's] time,” Shepherd said. “We knew what their response would be. We know they would feel strongly [about banning Halloween in the school district]. So, the reason we didn’t go forward with the community hearings is because we knew they would be upset.”
The school administration informed parents of the decision via letter that was sent out earlier this week.
“There were some that were upset [with the letter],” Shepherd said. “They feel that this is part of the culture of the school, I certainly understand it, I get it.”
The following is an excerpt from the letter:
“District 69 has made the decision not to celebrate Halloween this year. This decision was not made lightly and many factors (including economic, social and religious) were considered. Many students cannot afford costumes and there is an economic disparity.
We also have students that are unable to participate for religious or cultural reasons. In the past, these students have had to sit in another room and participate in an alternative activity. Every year the number of students that cannot participate grows. Our staff and administration feel very strongly that we never want students to feel uncomfortable while in school and this celebration makes many uncomfortable.”
Tough call -
In the end, however, Shepherd said he feels his administration did what’s best for the district’s students.
“We had some indications that attendance was dropping during Halloween,” Shepherd said. “At all schools we saw a drop of about 5 percent [on Halloween day]; we have some 2,000 kids. We try to be cultural sensible. It just sort of adds up I think.”
When asked whether he feels the school is being too poltically correct, Shepherd said:
“No, I do not think we are being too poltically correct,” he said. “I think we are being responsive at the numbers we’re looking at.”
Update: 10/05 - The district may change their stance.
Editor's note: District 69 compromises schools from Madison Elementary, Edison and Lincoln Junior High. You can read the letter sent from District 69 to parents in full here.