Ripton, Vermont, has had all kinds of community-based Halloween festivities over the years, anchored on the school: hayrides, haunted houses, a spectacular haunted forest, spooky stories read out loud, costume parades, the works.
This year, however, the principal decided not to do anything for Halloween. No scary stories were read in the library, no costume parades were held, nothing staged after school on the school grounds. Moreover, kids were free to do what they wanted outside of school, but were forbidden to do anything Halloween-ish in school. For example, some children brought costumes on Friday, were told they couldn't wear them, and were probably as sad as you might imagine....
Following this decision's announcement in school, a protest started in the upper grades, as two 5/6ers started up a petition in favor of the banned holiday. This didn't get far, as either* their teacher or the school's principal chided them. Said authority figure described him or herself as "disappointed" in the activist children, and explained that petitions were "disrespectful."...
I wrote "announcement in school", because the school did not communicate this decision to parents or the larger community. No printed note, no email, nothing in a newsletter, no poster in the lobby, nothing.
After days of discussion and investigation, no answer is really available. No formal communication came from the school. Children were told that in-school celebrations were against federal law, then passed on this legal interpretation to parents. I've been promised a legal citation from the principal, and wait for it still.
As Alexander's post notes, the petition story may have gotten garbled: "The principal denies speaking to the kids, but some of the children insist it was her. No word from the teacher." But the authorities did definitely make the bizarre claim that Halloween celebrations are illegal. At a subsequent school board meeting, Alexander tells me, "The principal and district superintendent said there was a law, that it was federal - no, state - no federal - no, they couldn't name it. Actually, there were cases. Well, there were *guidelines*. And a book. And printouts. Principal actually left the meeting to go find a book to show me."
A report from the school board meeting is here.