SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn — Thanksgiving, Santa, and The Pledge of Allegiance are all banned at one Brooklyn school. Parents say new Principal Eujin Jaelin Kim cited cultural sensitivity as the reason. Now hundreds are asking the Chancellor to step in to appoint a new principal who supports the holidays.
"Thanksgiving has to be called a harvest festival. Christmas which is a big fundraiser that the school has every year, that we have Santa Claus, milk and cookies, pictures for the parents, we can't even do that," PTA president Mimi Ferrer said.
Ferrer said she was shocked when she learned Santa would be banned from PS169 this year. She said she found out about the ban from a letter circulating around the school from Principal Kim to the faculty.
Students said they've noticed the difference.
"We used to decorate the school with red and green and everybody used to be all joyful and now there's not really a lot of decorations or anything really on the school," fifth-grader Rachel Basant said.
"There was decorations all over the school, but now there's not a lot and there's no Santa Clauses," third-grader Youssra Elhanche said.
"I ready to have cookies with Santa and she told me no," Ferrer said. "She gave me the big N-O. We can't have it."
Students weren't allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving either. Instead they had a harvest festival. On top of that, Kim said the students can no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Maria Salvador pulled her son out of the school last year after the she tried to talk to Kim about sacking Santa.
"She said no because the Department of Education say no," Salvador said. "No celebrate Christmas, no Santa, no nothing."
PIX11 News reached out repeatedly to the DOE for comment, but got no response. While Salvador said she's happy with the new school, she's disappointed her son has to travel so far to get to a school that celebrates culture.
"I'm so sad because I live so close to the school."
Parents have started a petition to have Kim removed from the school. Almost 200 people signed on in the first four hours.
"I celebrate the holiday and it's so fun for me, but I guess it was not fun this year," third-grader Samantha Diaz said.
"We have many cultures in our school," Ferrer said.
"I think it's best to learn from one another. Just because we don't celebrate it, or a handful of people don't celebrate it, does not mean that the whole school should not be learning from it."