NEW YORK – Thirty-three year old Brooklyn principal Eujin Jaela Kim replaced her school’s Christmas parties with “winter celebrations,” and outlawed The Pledge of Allegiance.
The new principal also eliminated Thanksgiving, despite clear notice from the city’s department of education allowing for holiday themes and symbols, the New York Post reports.
“We definitely can’t say Christmas, nothing with Christmas on it, nothing with Santa,” local PTA president Mimi Ferrer told the news site. “No angels. We can’t even have a star because it can represent a religious system, like the Star of David.”
About 95 percent of students at Brooklyn’s PS 169 are either Hispanic or Asian, and assistant principal Jose Chaparro announced last month that the school is changing its holiday traditions to “be sensitive of the diversity of our families.
“Not all children celebrate the same holidays,” Chaparro wrote.
That’s undoubtedly why the city’s Department of Education allows schools to use Santa as a secular figure, Christmas trees, candleholders for Kwanzaa, Islamic symbols, dreidels, and Hanukkah menorahs, while prohibiting against “images of deities, religious figures or religious texts,” according to the news site.
But each school’s policies are left up to local leaders, and Kim apparently prefers to error on the side of political correctness.
“In case you were wondering about grey areas: Santa Claus is considered an ‘other religious figure,’” PS 169 business manager Johanna Bjorken wrote to staff last month, according to the Post.
Kim took over leadership of PS 169 this year from interim principal Joseph Iorio, who told the media the school operated much differently under his leadership.
Iorio said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz used to dress as Santa to visit children at the school during Christmas time. Iorio would also direct student leaders to recite The Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeaker every Monday.
Those traditions and others were scrubbed when Kim cleaned house.
The Post reports:
Soon after joining PS 169 in May 2014, her first time as a principal, (Kim) ordered the faculty to clear their classrooms of “clutter.” She moved hundreds of books and loads of supplies into the gym, where parents and other community members took what they wanted. The rest was tossed in the trash.
She also dumped boxes of newly purchased reading books in the basement because she preferred another curriculum, staffers said.
Kim bought seven 70-to-80-inch Sharp flat-screen smart TVs, which retail at about $3,000 each. After painting over and removing historic murals, she had the TVs mounted in the auditorium — three over the stage and two on each side.
PTA President Ferrer told Fox & Friends the changes, particularly the elimination of Christmas, are perplexing and frustrating.
“We don’t understand. We’re trying to figure it out, you know,” Ferrer said. “We are in America, and we’re supposed to be proud of where we are. We have all these immigrants coming into our schools, and we understand their beliefs, but we are in America and we’re supposed to keep the American Dream alive.”
Ferrer said she doesn’t understand why PS 169 doesn’t allow things like Santa that students in other schools get to enjoy, so she confronted Kim.
“I addressed her at a board meeting we have every month, ‘Why not Santa Claus?’” Ferrer told Fox & Friends. “She said because Santa Claus is represented as St. Nicholas, who is also represented as a religious figure. But I’m like, Santa Claus has been Americanized for so many years.”
“I’m shocked, why is it our school is banned?” Ferrer questioned.
Ferrer is among several Parents of Sunset Park Elementary School who attempted to get an answer to that question and others by organizing a community meeting last month. The group reportedly worked with city council member Carlos Menchaca to set up a town hall Nov. 3, but parents later boycotted the meeting after Menchaca opted to set it for 8 a.m. on a Tuesday, when most parents can’t attend, according to a Facebook post.