Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Christian Holidays Erased From NY School District Calendar, Judaic Holidays Listed

Parents challenge calendar's 'political correctness'

School calendar omits Christian holidays; non-Christian included by name

By John Sullivan

Times Herald-Record
September 14, 2007

Several Monroe-Woodbury School District parents say they are offended by a school calendar that marks non-Christian holidays by name but delineates Christian holidays, including Good Friday, Christmas and Easter, with only "schools closed."

"There have been a lot of people in my neighborhood who have been talking about this," said Valerie Tocyloski, co-president of the North Main Elementary School PTA. "If you're going to write 'Rosh Hashana' and 'Yom Kippur,' where's 'Christmas'?"

The calendar actually only identifies the religious holidays of Rosh Hashana and Passover. No other religious or cultural holidays are mentioned.

Tocyloski said the calendar, which arrived just before the Rosh Hashana holiday, was marked in the same way last year, "but for whatever reason, the issue is bigger this year."

Heads of PTAs at other schools in the district said they, too, have received numerous calls and plan to bring up the issue with Superintendent Joe DiLorenzo.

One of the most vocal parents is Monroe resident Frank Borowski, who said he asked DiLorenzo to send home letters to district residents that explain the omitted holidays as well as the district's position.

DiLorenzo could not be reached yesterday because district offices were closed for Rosh Hashana.

Deputy Superintendent James Rathbun acknowledged that mistakes were made in the calendar, but he said they were not done so intentionally.

"I can assure you that there was no intent to slight any religious group," he said.

The district failed to properly edit the calendar, which was produced at BOCES, he said. BOCES officials could not be immediately reached yesterday.

Rathbun said that reprinting the calendar would unlikely be palatable to taxpayers, who must foot the cost. He was uncertain how the district would address the issue.

School board President Jon Huberth said the district will look more carefully at the calendar next year.

"When you run an organization as big as ours, there's going to be some oversights and mistakes," he said.

Borowski, a Roman Catholic who attends Mass every Sunday, said he is dissatisfied with the district's response.

He wants the superintendent to either write a letter for the district Web site or to reprint the calendars with the omitted holidays included.

"Most times I say, 'What's wrong with these people (who bring up issues of political correctness)?'" he said.

"But sometimes something hits you in a certain way, and you feel like you have to do something."

P.C. flaps in schools
Warwick 2006: Students rally against the school's decision to remove its traditional Christmas Tree - renamed the "Spirit Tree" to be politically correct.

It was preceded by a flap over a Jewish parent's request to avoid having Santa Claus at a PTA event. The name of the event was changed from "Breakfast with Santa" to "Winter Wonderland Breakfast."

Goshen 2005: A parent demands that tribal masks made by students in art class be taken down because they resemble the devil.

Around the same time, Middle School Assistant Principal Kent Maslin's "joyous winter season" greeting at a holiday concert prompts angry letters to the editor of a local weekly newspaper.


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