By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
West Seattle’s most populous grade school, Lafayette Elementary, is not allowing student costumes on Halloween this year, principal Shauna Heath confirms to WSB this morning.
Several upset parents e-mailed us about this over the weekend; we called and e-mailed Heath yesterday to ask for confirmation/comment. She told us yesterday afternoon, “The staff is still discussing the issue and we will have an answer for you (Tuesday).”
Early this morning, the principal e-mailed us the promised update:
This decision was made by the entire staff after two deep and detailed discussions. The initial conversation was initiated by staff members who suggested that since Halloween falls this year on a half day of school, we not allow costumes. It takes students a while to change into their costumes, and students are distracted taking away from the already limited instructional time.
The Lafayette Staff met again on Monday, revisiting and recommitting to their decision of no costumes so that we can focus on academics during the limited time we have available. The staff has committed to continuing the conversation throughout the year before deciding on what we will do in the future about Halloween celebrations.
The parents who contacted WSB (and other media) said they had heard the decision was based on concerns about cultural sensitivity; so, we asked Heath on followup this morning, since her reply did not mention that issue, was that an inaccurate perception? Her reply: “We made the decision due to instructional time. There was a thoughtful conversation about cultural as well as equity issues that we want to discuss as a staff further, but the reason for the final decision about costumes was instructional time.”
According to the Seattle Public Schools calendar, October 31st is a “two-hour early-dismissal day,” one of several that the district has through the year, usually for teachers’ professional-development time. As for Halloween costumes, district policy has historically been that the decision has been up to each school. We don’t know the policies of West Seattle’s seven other public elementaries and one public K-8
, but plan to ask, and will add the answers as we get them.