Backlash as Manville school nixes outdoor Halloween parade
Another New Jersey school is facing backlash from parents over changes to a cherished Halloween activity — but the school says parents are misunderstanding an effort to keep their children safe.
The school announced in a letter sent home earlier this month it was not holding its annual outdoor Halloween parade "to ensure the safety and security" of its students. Instead, students would have classroom costume contests and other "fun-filled fall activities."
But Parent Jordan Canuso, in a petition on Change.org that's been signed by nearly 600 people that urges residents to "take back American traditions at school," said she doesn't doesn't believe the stated reasons for canceling the parade.
"Weston school is taking away so many traditions from our kids, who I fear will no longer have the experiences we did if we (moms) keep letting this happen," she wrote.
She continued in the petition: "I know in the letter sent home it said 'safety' was the issue, which we all know is not true! Our town is 2 square miles and has some amazing cops who will keep the kids safe during the outdoor parade (just as they did in the past, circling the school)!"
Canuso didn't say in her petition what she thought the school's motivations were, but the decision comes as a school in Maplewood canceled Halloween activities — garnering statewide attention — over concerns too many members of its diverse student body who abstain would feel excluded.
UPDATE, 4:20 p.m.: Superintendent Anne Facendo, in a message to New Jersey 101.5 said the parade isn't canceled — "the venue has simply been moved indoors as a measure to keep our youngest students safe, secure, and happy for their Halloween festivities."
"We stand by our decision," she wrote. "We have answered numerous e-mails and phone calls from concerned parents today and are happy to assure our parental community that Halloween will take place at Weston School and that appropriate security measures are in place."
According to MyCentralJersey.com, a message sent home to parents told them that "While we realize that this decision may be disappointing for some of our parents and families in the community, the decision was based on solid evidence of possible security and safety issues.”
It was not immediately clear from the report of the message what the "solid evidence" of security issues was. Facendo did not address a question about the security concern in her message to New Jersey 101.5.
The Weston Elementary School's activities are scheduled for next Friday, October 30.