MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (PIX11) – Halloween has been canceled in schools in South Orange and Maplewood.
Ronald Taylor, the South Orange-Maplewood School District superintendent, said in a letter he polled his principals and they overwhelmingly responded that any Halloween celebrations should be held after school, not during.
He said the reasons were that the celebrations created unintentional financial hardships for families who couldn’t afford costumes and violated the dignity of some students culturally or religiously.
Gov. Phil Murphy responded to the district’s decision on X (formerly known as Twitter), saying, “Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break.”
The town of Maplewood has celebrated Halloween with a traditional parade outside of school.
Another Maplewood school canceled its Halloween celebration back in 2015. The principal of Seth Boyden Elementary School said that one-fifth of the students in the school did not participate.
About 120 of 518 students at the school needed alternative activities or skipped school on Oct. 31, school officials said.
“Celebrating Halloween has made many of our students feel left out,” the principal and PTA leaders said at the time. Some groups of Christians, Muslims and Orthodox Jews don’t celebrate.
Other families said they found it difficult to leave work to help children get costumes or come watch the parade at school. Some said they couldn’t afford to buy costumes.
Taylor said the schools are willing to host fall festivities instead.
Schools in Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle have made similar moves.
New Jersey schools have been struggling for more than a decade with Halloween challenges, with several canceling outdoor parades for security concerns or canceling Halloween then reinstituting after family pushback.
Some schools and police departments in the state banned clown costumes back in 2016 due to a streak of terrifying clown sightings that went viral on social media.
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