It's Final - District 69 Bans Halloween Parties

The school board supports superintendent's decision to eschew Oct. 31 celebrations, including costumes, parties, parades and candy. However, the superintendent and board acknowledged there were issues with the way he communicated this.


It might not be the most popular decision with students and some parents, but the three Skokie-Morton Grove District 69 schools will not have Halloween parties this year.

The seven-member District 69 board backed Superintendent Quintin Shepherd's decision to ban the parties at its regular meeting Nov. 16. 

The board did not take a vote, but it also made no effort to reverse the edict handed down earlier this month by Shepherd that it was not a good use of student time to spend two hours celebrating Halloween on Oct. 31.

“We support his decision,” Board President Terri Lefler said.

Shepherd acknowledged there were some issues in terms of how his decision was communicated with the public. 

Shepherd's considered making the move to ban Halloween in the three years he has been in place as superintendent and decided to move forward this year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, he cited concerns District 69 has not made progress in certain areas in terms of ISAT testing and ultimately fearing that in the 2014-2015 year, the Illinois State Board of Education could eventually take over District 69 if scores do not improve.

What has angered some parents is there was no parental input on the matter. Shepherd apologized for the way the communications and decisions were handled. He had originally said he did not want to waste the community’s time and that is why parents were not informed beforehand.

“It was not my intention to offend anyone,” he said.

A letter was sent to parents a couple of weeks ago informing them of the decision that touched on religious and cultural concerns as reasons to move away from school celebrations. Shepherd also has noted an attendance drop on Halloween.

Shepherd, who has two children of his own, is not against having fun on the day, but just doesn’t believe school is the appropriate forum for it.

“I think Halloween is something that should be celebrated and there should be parties and you should spend time with your friends and family after school if you so choose,” he said.

However, Shepherd’s reasoning did not assuage a group who believe October 31st should still have a couple of hours of fun.

 “My granddaughter is still going to trick-or-treat but she is missing out on those two hours and I believe those two hours are important for a childhood,” said Linda Kowalczyk, who spoke to the board directly. “You all have memories of celebrating some sort of party in school. You are taking that away and you are missing the opportunity to educate and learn about each other and to express to children that this is part of America.”

Shaun Saville created an online petition that eventually closed with 472 signatures to keep the celebration in place.

“I can’t see how taking two hours in the afternoon will make that much of a difference,” she said.

But Shepherd did have his supporters in the audience.

 “I think it is a waste of time during the school day,” said Skokie resident Alex Baluk. “It goes back to money and money for kids going to school.”

Lefler said the decision for 2012 was final, but left the door open to revisit the issue in the future.

Overall, board members appear to be pleased with the work Shepherd is doing. “I think your leadership has been phenomenal,” noted board member Maggie Nessim.

While realizing the Halloween festivities were not going to occur this year, Saville is hopeful that the board will make some internal alterations in the future.

“I don’t think anything is going to change,” she said. “I hope the board in the future will not let Quintin continue to circumvent the process.”

The school board did vote 6-1 to ban a skate park on Lincoln School property during the same meeting. 

Paul Young October 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM
As for the Halloween comments themselves, now that I am done griping about Pete, If you have a problem with the decisions made by the school board go to the meetings. I know that is not always a convenient endeavor to show up to meetings at night, but it makes your views known in regards to the direction of the school leadership. Voting also helps because then your voice is put into action. Interesting facts about home schooling Pat.
Pete October 18, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Well. Paul. It's not like they are throughing this party during the school day for kids who's partent will keep them home. Thier gig is on a sat... An so is everybody else's. Shoul we get to the point on here where we are Reading tons of advertising on here just to get to the comments on the issue... What dealers up Ur skirt this morning ;)
D October 18, 2012 at 04:07 PM
www.mglovesrats.com Halloween is actually a Christian holiday http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween I know its become a part of mainstream American but facts are facts
Anderson October 18, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Lisa Kaihara, Kudos to you all for following through and not succumbing to the pressure. You won't have to worry about rats coming to a meeting, it's easier to just sit and gripe online and not actually DO anything. Rats... I told you so.
Anderson October 18, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Facts don't matter D lol
Anderson October 18, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Pulling your kid from SCHOOL because they are not going to have a party is pretty backwards and petty.
Mr. Rats October 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM
There will be change when we vote the brainiacs out.
Mr. Rats October 18, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Not. It's been transformed into a secular holiday.
Mr. Rats October 18, 2012 at 04:40 PM
It may sound petty but there's teeth behind that action. Real pressure can be brought down on the brainiacs (board and super) in the form of Fed dollars and Illinois board pressure. We also have the vote and no way the will be able to sustain that. Pack up your bags comrades.
Anderson October 18, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I love that you use "brainiac" as an insult lol. Yes, let us vote the smart people out and replace them with (non-smart?) people, or (non-brainiacs?) By all means, stay on the internet and leave the work to the brainiacs.
Paul Young October 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I don't have a horse in this race Pete, but I still think u are a bit sore about the Farmers Market for some reason. I haven't seen u comment on any other boards about spam.
Pete October 18, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Paul. Mabe other boards haven't concerned me, so I could care less bout some issues an topics. But when I'm at work trying to get the just of a conversation an I'm in a hurry spam is the last thing I have time for. An besides this issue is dead. It's a shame they got away with taking something fun away from the kids...an btw don't u live in MG ... Shouldn't you be in the other comment board ? Cause Ur missing out morton grove residents are crying again . This time over a recycling center in Ur industrial pk....pretty soon nobody will want to open a bussiness in MG,,,, then u morton grovers can absord all the taxes Ur town incurres
Pete October 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
An yes Paul my spelling is a little off today. Before u comment. I've been up all night repossessing cars all night. Some in Ur neck of the woods. An now I'm at my real job an in a hurry. Go check out that other issue UR missin out. ;)
rzdw92 October 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
If missing out on instructional time is the actual concern, I've got a suggestion: keep the school open on religious holidays. The kids in D69 lost 2 whole instructional days when the school was closed on 9/17 & 9/26 (Jewish holidays). They will also lose an entire day of instruction on 10/26 for the Muslim holiday. Basically, D69 would rather lose 3 entire days than lose a couple hours on Halloween. Sorry, it doesn't make sense.
S October 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM
By that rationale, then on Halloween the school should be closed. The District closes during Jewish Holidays and now is recognizing Eid-Al-Adha as a formal holiday on October 26th. So, closing the school for the day to recognize a holiday few observe is ok, but we need to get rid of the Halloween party to help test scores?
Tami Madison October 18, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I can't believe that parents would object to the cancellation of Halloween festivities at SCHOOL! I support the administration 100% as there are enough opportunities for kids to celebrate this holiday AFTER school. I send my children to school to learn, not to take an entire afternoon for Halloween activities. I applaud the administration for supporting my children's education and the school as a place of learning. Parents must respect that principals and superintendents have the responsibility of upholding the standards of education that we expect them to.
Mr. Rats October 19, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Wow, what standards. Dead last in the industrialized world and some third world countries. Dead last because of the last thirty years worth of administrators, districts, unions, boards and money across the country that look just like these bums. They're at best worthless and perhaps worse, subversive. Anything to promote a left-wing we're all equal, nobody gets hurt, everyone is special agenda by lowering standards and wiping out anything that is American and individualistic.
Mr. Rats October 19, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Anderson, surely you new I meant brainiacs in a sarcastic manner.
Anderson October 19, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Doesn't matter. Leave the smart people to make the decisions, leave the rest to complain on the Internet :-)
Mr. Rats October 19, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Smart people respond to someone on the internet called rats, Anderson!
Anderson October 19, 2012 at 01:07 AM
You are right ;-)
Mr. Rats October 19, 2012 at 01:24 AM
http://quentinshepardisanidiot.wordpress.com/ Don't send your kids to school on Halloween this year, District 69.
Sue Afryl October 19, 2012 at 03:53 PM
There seems to be a lot of back peddling on Mr. Shepherd’s part. When he 1st instated this ban he claimed it was because it offended certain religious and other groups who could not participate and it was also for children of lower income families because they could not afford to participate. Now Mr. Shepherd is using standardized test scores as his excuse. He stated our schools are failing. Then you have some who wrote it has no educational value, its a religious holiday separation of church and state. Here’s the bottom line one 2 hour celebration is not pulling down test scores and banning it will not increase test scores. The way students are taught, the quality of the curriculum and the teachers who execute it is what will increase test scores not banning a 2 hour party once a year.
Sue Afryl October 19, 2012 at 03:54 PM
If Separation of Church and State is the case ban one ban all, Religions & religious holidays. That means uniforms for all school children navy jumpers, skirts white blouses for girls, navy pants and white shirts for boys. No Muslim girls may cover their head no Jewish boy can wear his skull cap and no child may be allowed to wear any type of religious symbol visible on their person. There will be no mention or reconnection of religion or religious holidays in the schools. This should include all schools all districts all education levels. This means no 3 days off every fall for the Jewish holidays no Christmas day off, no Easter Passover break these do not separate church and state. That is true separation. People get it together pull your Dam heads out of the sand! This is one man telling an entire school dist how it will be. This is allowing the small handful that complained to be able to dictate and control an entire school district. This is teaching your children intolerance! This is helping to breed more hate through non-acceptance. Thinking wow extreme? Perhaps not as extreme as you may think.
Lorel Park October 19, 2012 at 10:22 PM
It's actually Lorel Park and Please make sure you pull the proper permits for the party you are planning. If you are going to pull your kids best not be embarassed when asked to see that document. Just saying - if you are going to go all rebel on it cover your bases... http://www.skokieparks.org/lorel-park
Lorel Park October 19, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Really? This is the place to plug this? Not very appropriate at this time.
Lorel Park October 19, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I think your rans would be more effective if you spelled his name right... Missed it on the first and last.
Linda K October 20, 2012 at 06:31 AM
I am sure that the school board and the superintendent have many difficult decisions to make. I am not going to "dis" them, or call them names. It will not accomplish anything. However, in my opinion, this decision was not made in an appropiate way. It seems that Mr. Sheperd just made this decision himself, and of course, the school board in most cases will back the superintendent. I also believe he back peddled a bit. He realized he upset many in the community and school and needed to defend his position. Citing religious reasons just didn't work. Not only is religion something that should not be used as a reason in a public school, but halloween is no longer thought of as a religious holiday. Using cultural difference angered many people, we should not be separating the cultures we should be encouraging the cultures to come together and learn from them. Halloween is part of American culture, as insignificant as it may be. And, of course, financial is also out because a child doesn't have to bring anything, and costume can be handmade, or handed down. These reasons offended some, but I think what offended the most was not having our right to voice our opinion. Parents don't like not having a say in their child's lives, even at school. Then Mr. Sheperd used a, in my opinion, scare tactic by throwing in the poor ISAT scores. (sorry I'm long winded and running out of characters...will continue). Thanks.
Linda K October 20, 2012 at 06:54 AM
But, imo, everyone is missing something that I think is very important. That is well rounded children. Well rounded children need opportunities like school parties, we had them, why shouldn't they. Many schools, including district 69 are low on funds. This means cuts, and cuts mean there are things that are pushed to the wayside, such as art, music, and sports. Within that Halloween party, the teachers could have implemented art in the form of a Halloween craft. Music, in the form of a Halloween song. Exercise, in the form of a costume parade. Socialization, obviously during the party the children would be able to socialize with each other. In this world of facebook, any chance a child gets to speak face to face and get to know another person is a good thing. And public speaking, each child could stand before their class and tell why they chose to dress-up as they did. This, imo, all falls under the realm of education. The types of education that is being cut more and more from the curriculum of our schools. And most importantly, I feel a well rounded person needs to have a well rounded childhood. Please, let our children be just that, children. Let them have time to play, imagine, and learn, with children of many cultures, this must be done at school as well as home. I hope the board and Mr. Sheperd reinstate Halloween next year, and not remove anymore of these types of festivities. Keep your children home, and let them know your are taking a stand for them. Thanks.
Buddy Holly October 24, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I can sum up this whole page in three words, folks: First World problems.


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