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Pleased holidays? Florida college district walks again choice to nix Hanukkah presentation – Florida Politics


Pasco County Colleges says it has reversed its choice to disclaim a mom’s request to provide a Hanukkah presentation to her son’s fifth grade class after reporters contacted the district for an evidence.

A district spokesperson stated the mom must first meet with college employees to arrange tips, however that the presentation has been in any other case authorized.

Rachel Lengthy has visited every of her youngsters’s lessons yearly to clarify Hanukkah — the Jewish “Festival of Lights” that takes place across the similar time as Christmas and equally entails present giving — since her eldest son was in preschool. He’s now in tenth grade.

Her brief presentation contains no point out of God or faith, Lengthy stated. As a substitute, it consists of her studying from a guide explaining Hanukkah (additionally written as “Chanukah”), sharing conventional meals, displaying a menorah, and giving toy tops (dreidels) to every baby for an in-class sport.

Not counting the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the faculties Lengthy’s youngsters attended welcomed her into the classroom yearly with out challenge. That was till final week when she reached out to her youngest baby’s fifth-grade trainer at his elementary college in New Port Richey to ask when she may come on this 12 months.

Initially, the trainer appeared open to the thought. She instructed Lengthy she would seek advice from college higher-ups “to find out what day and time can be finest.”

A couple of days later, nonetheless, the trainer stated that after talking with college employees and district directors, they advisable she deny Lengthy’s request, citing Florida’s comparatively new Parents’ Bill of Rights.

“As per discussions with the group and Admin, the brand new Dad or mum Invoice of Rights (sic) obligates us to comply with the fifth Grade Requirements as written,” the trainer stated by textual content. “Right now, a Chanukah presentation will not be in our requirements.”

Lengthy requested: “Then, I assume, no Christmas actions will probably be achieved?”

The trainer didn’t instantly reply.

Screenshots of the textual content change between guardian Rachel Lengthy and her son’s fifth grade trainer. Picture by way of Rachel Lengthy.

The Mother and father’ Invoice of Rights, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on June 30, 2021, offers that folks can object to — and choose their baby out of — educational supplies based mostly on their beliefs about morality, intercourse and faith.

The one point out of holidays and cultural traditions within the Pasco Faculty curriculum guide for fifth grade says college students will learn tales from “totally different cultures” and encourages mother and father to debate the that means of assorted holidays with their youngsters.

CPALMS, the Florida Division of Training’s official supply for training requirements, contains authorized classes on holidays in world language, historical past, and civics lessons and a whole bunch of allowances for multicultural training.

Lengthy contacted the college’s principal and acquired an analogous reply. The principal, she stated, claimed to have spoken with an Assistant Superintendent from the district. The Assistant Superintendent assigned to the college is Kimberly Poe, in line with Pasco Colleges Director of Worker Relations Kathy Scalise.

Lengthy stated the principal instructed her: “Because of the Dad or mum Invoice of Rights (sic), the college couldn’t rejoice any holidays.”

Apparently, that doesn’t apply to Christmas, Lengthy contended, noting Christmas-themed décor all through a “vacation store” within the college and a number of associated actions.

“(The) youngsters are watching the musical, ‘Elf Jr.,’ throughout college, the college is totally adorned for Christmas, and there’s a ‘Santa night time’ deliberate,” Lengthy instructed Florida Politics. “(The principal) defined these items by saying they’re holiday-themed, not Christmas, and oldsters are capable of choose their college students out. Academics are allowed to have Christmas bushes of their rooms however usually are not allowed to do Elf on The Shelf.

“If college students can take part in all these actions or be opted out, I instructed that college students could possibly be opted out of my Chanukah presentation.”

The elementary college’s “vacation store” has no scarcity of Christmas-themed decorations. Picture by way of Rachel Lengthy.

Lengthy pressured that she isn’t attempting to push her faith on anybody.

“I’m simply attempting to show my baby’s classmates to totally different traditions,” she stated. Lengthy stated the principal agreed to boost the difficulty once more with Poe earlier than rendering a closing choice Thursday however instructed that if the college allowed a presentation on Hanukkah, “they must educate Kwanza and Diwali.”

“I believe that may be superior,” Lengthy stated. “I instructed her that whether it is me coming in that is a matter; I might be pleased to ship the supplies in for the trainer to make use of. I defined to her that if I’m not capable of do my presentation or that the trainer doesn’t do it, I’ll increase hell if I see one Christmas paper come dwelling or I see one Christmas tree within the college.”

Florida Politics contacted principal Poe, Pasco Colleges Superintendent Kurt Browning, and Deputy Superintendent Ray Gadd. None responded by press time.

However the challenge appeared to have been resolved by Wednesday afternoon. Pasco Colleges Public Info Officer Stephen Hegarty instructed Florida Politics that Lengthy may certainly do her Hanukkah presentation as soon as she meets with the trainer and different related school.

Hegarty confirmed a neighborhood TV reporter had additionally realized of the difficulty and was in search of solutions. He stated the district was being cautious when it expressed reticence at Lengthy’s request.

“The Mother and father’ Invoice of Rights is new, and despite the fact that it doesn’t have an effect on lots of issues, it impacts some issues, and all people desires to ensure they’re doing the suitable factor,” he stated. “They’re attempting to watch out.”

He added, “My understanding is the trainer sought clarification from her principal, her principal sought clarification, and that’s the place we’re proper now, which is that she’s going to work via it, ensure it’s all achieved appropriately, and I anticipate she’s going to enter the classroom and make a fantastic presentation. My understanding is she’s achieved a terrific job previously.”

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