Lafayette Elementary principal explains ‘no Halloween costumes’ decision

October 16, 2012 at 7:38 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 143 Comments

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.

143 Comments

  1. I think the bigger question is “Why don’t the teachers have control of their classrooms”? A simple task like changing into their costumes shouldn’t even be a factor. A solution? Have the kids come to school already dressed. I personally don’t think the decision has anything to do with costumes or changing or…? The Seattle Public Schools have been trying to do away with Halloween for years. Even going so far as to changing the name to “Harvest Day”. Sad!

    Comment by fauntleroy fairy — 7:48 am October 16, 2012 #

  2. When I was a kid, early 70′s, we came to school in our costumes.
    I do understand cultural issues. I worked for a major company and we tried to have a fun office day one year having candy handed out with black and orange balloons, nothing screaming halloween, and 2 people out of 100 complained all the way up the ladder and the office manager was told never to do that again. Its unfortunate that society is getting very sterile, but its reality.

    Comment by coffee — 7:52 am October 16, 2012 #

  3. The bigger question is why do the parents of Lafayette start whining to WSB when they don’t get their way?

    Comment by WSMom3 — 7:52 am October 16, 2012 #

  4. WSMom, we cover schools, so we hear from parents at a variety of schools. We have worked hard to cultivate contacts and report on everything that happens at school, good, bad, otherwise.

    Comment by WSB — 8:00 am October 16, 2012 #

  5. I am starting to wonder if Ms. Heath’s commitment to making Lafayette one of the nations best performing schools may be coming at too great a cost. Halloween is cancelled and, the kids aren’t allowed to play tag at recess. If we slowly suck all of the joy out of being at school, won’t we be worse off in the end?

    Comment by Mrs. T — 8:01 am October 16, 2012 #

  6. “focus on academics during the limited time we have available”

    Sounds good to me.

    Comment by Jim — 8:01 am October 16, 2012 #

  7. Hey parents. Stay out of the faculties decision. You don’t always know what is best so leave it to the staff who work there and who also care about your kids.

    Comment by Dee — 8:03 am October 16, 2012 #

  8. No tag at recess? Is that really the case? If so it makes me sad for the kids at Lafayette.

    Comment by michellem — 8:06 am October 16, 2012 #

  9. WSB I’m not saying anything bad about you covering it. You’re just doing your job, and you do it very well. I’m just wondering why the Lafayette parents have to go to the media whenever they don’t get their way?

    Comment by WSMom3 — 8:06 am October 16, 2012 #

  10. That’s great that they want to spend the half day focused on instructional time. Costumes, whether worn to school in the morning or changed into at some point in the day are a huge distraction from the learning. The kids are so excited about Halloween, but on a short school day I respect the decision of the staff to focus on the academics rather than putting out behavior fires all day.

    Comment by HEW — 8:16 am October 16, 2012 #

  11. At Arbor Heights and I believe several other schools in the area Halloween is celebrated as “Book Character Day”. It’s a way for the kids identify a character from a book they’d like to be, create a costume and be able to tell everyone about their character and book. Great way to tie it into reading and learning.

    Comment by AH Parent — 8:21 am October 16, 2012 #

  12. Yup, no tag. At the elementary school my kids attend, there is NO RUNNING allowed at recess! And the kids who most need to have a burst of physical activity are oh-so-often the same kids who wiggle/can’t focus in class (*because* they need to have physical activity!), so their penalty is this: stand still at the wall for much of recess. Really!
    Can you say, “There are adults in charge who do not understand the physiological brain development of children”??
    The science of this has been around for decades, so any century now it should trickle down to Seattle Schools.

    Comment by happy — 8:25 am October 16, 2012 #

  13. Costumes at school sound like a fun idea, but it’s always stressful, uncomfortable and hard to get anything done. Good decision! My kid’s school doesn’t allow them, never has.

    Comment by trick or treat — 8:28 am October 16, 2012 #

  14. Dee – you must not be a parent because that’s EXACTLY where the parents should focus their attention – educating their children! Your claim that parents “don’t know always know what’s best” for their kids is mind-blowing! Thank Gawd my child goes to a private school that has the ability to celebrate everything yet stress academics too!

    Comment by fauntleroy fairy — 8:31 am October 16, 2012 #

  15. I am shocked that this constitutes news, on any level. With so many more important and critical issues facing our community, this is what gets the focus and attention – parents whining about no costumes? It’s embarrassing really.

    Comment by shocked — 8:51 am October 16, 2012 #

  16. Harvest Day sounds lame. I am also sensitive to other cultures but hey, Halloween (costumes and candy) is our culture, why shouldn’t we preserve it? Have costumes the day before perhaps.

    Comment by Xavier — 8:51 am October 16, 2012 #

  17. Shocked – BINGO! Not to mention the parents that made this into a “media frenzy” are trying to bully the principal into getting their way. Hopefully she stands by her staff’s decision.

    Comment by wow, just wow — 8:56 am October 16, 2012 #

  18. Shocked, our story may not reflect this well enough but from the volume and tone of e-mail we received over the past few days and the number of people/organizations CC’d, it’s clear that hundreds of people in the community were talking about it, whether you think they should have been or not, and this is meant to say “OK, here’s what the principal says is happening and why.” We’re still reporting on the important/critical issues (and in many cases are the ONLY news outlet thoroughly covering those issues, day in and day out) too. I do have to renege on the last line about checking with other schools – this day is already off to the races (we’ll be at Roxhill in an hour covering the attendance-campaign kickoff) and there’s not going to be time. Anyone reading this who is interested in mentioning their school’s policy, please do. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:57 am October 16, 2012 #

  19. Gatewood’s policy has been no costumes for a long time.

    Comment by Que — 9:01 am October 16, 2012 #

  20. Lots and lots of schools have eliminated Halloween (and most other cultural celebrations) over the last 5-10 years.
    .
    The only reason it’s taken Lafayette this long is that it’s been a very rich, very white school (relative to many others). As demographics change, you can expect all schools to go this way.

    Comment by Robot — 9:05 am October 16, 2012 #

  21. Not sure if this is the case here but sometimes older kids wear inappropriate costumes (blood/gore/shock) and this does not sit well with the younger students. Would you want your 5 year old scared s***less by an 11 year old? There is a big difference between the age groups and what they can handle.
    .
    There are “costumes” that parents/kids feel are ok that actually have no place in an educational environment. Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean it’s a free for all.
    .
    I am pro-costume but as is often the case, a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

    Comment by WSratsinacage — 9:05 am October 16, 2012 #

  22. WSB – I agree you should report on it, but my point is WHY do these hundreds of people in the community feel this is worthy of such energy and discussion? This energy should be channeled to do something GOOD for the community not used to whine and complain about wearing costumes to school.

    Comment by shocked — 9:09 am October 16, 2012 #

  23. Thanks for covering this, WSB, simply because you cover everything in the community that there’s a buzz about!

    It’s unfortunate that seemingly every change that is made at Lafayette is met with so much protest and skepticism. Change, improvement, and innovation–in education, and in most things–comes through a process of intelligent testing and tweaking. Ms. Heath’s statement about this, and some of the other things that she’s done, reflect the fact that she using this approach. She wants to test new ideas, and then she and her team will assess results and move forward.

    That’s good management and smart leadership. And it requires some patience and flexibility from the entire community. We should try follow up with direct feedback after something’s been tested, rather than before it’s even had a chance.

    Yes, it’s a little sad to get one less wearing of the costume this year, but the spirit of what she’s doing is excellent!

    Comment by Boo! — 9:19 am October 16, 2012 #

  24. Shocked-who detrmines “what is good for the community”-you? Looking at the comments here there are differing opinions on this decision by Lafayette’s principal/faculty. I like to see/hear all points of view-I have my own as do you-but there seems to be quite a number of folks who want to discuss this so why not? I don’t think this topic-pro or con undermines our community at all. It’s on peoples minds & they’re discussing it. Isn’t that part of what makes the WSB great?

    Comment by Anne — 9:25 am October 16, 2012 #

  25. My question would be when did Lafayette unban Halloween costumes? When Mr. Holden became principal in the mid 1960s he banned costumes at school, and discontinued a many decades old tradition of a Halloween parade on the sidewalks of the Admiral district. Any idea when costume wearing started up again?

    Comment by Gina — 9:42 am October 16, 2012 #

  26. I like the ‘character day’ at AH. My one grip: the faculty doesn’t enforce the no mask policy and that you must have a book. I understand some may not be able to have a book to go with – so check one out of the library. At least dress as a character in a book! Wearing a mask? Make the kids take it off! My child who obeys both rules ALWAYS comes home and asks why those kids were allowed masks. And they are Scream/horror masks, too! No book there! Kids need to learn to follow ALL rules! Yes, they may be made an example. How else do others and ourselves learn?

    Comment by AH Mom — 9:46 am October 16, 2012 #

  27. - faunt. fairy – yes am a parent and worked in Public schools for 35 yrs, 10 of those in elementary schools in WS. Yes we encouraged parental involvement to a degree but when it comes to actual decision making really only those (staff) who are in the bldg. everyday can make unbiased educated ones. I’m sure if Halloween were in a normally scheduled day that the kids would be wearing their costumes.

    Comment by Dee — 10:02 am October 16, 2012 #

  28. According to the Times article a mother is upset that her daughter can’t go to school dressed up like the character from the movie Hunger Games. What mother in her right mind has allowed a little girl to watch such a movie? A movie based on the killing of little kids. I’m offended by this. I’m disturbed that an elementary school child has seen a movie like this and then wants to emulate such.
    Who would have thought that parents would be protesting having an environment dedicated to learning? If it’s that important to parents that their child dresses up all day then keep them home, let them run around all day dressed up so that they learn just what’s important in life. Whaaaa, I want my kid to be able to dress up! Whaaaa!!!

    Comment by Neighbor — 10:08 am October 16, 2012 #

  29. I agree, parents stop whining and the let the faculty do their jobs, missing a Halloween isn’t going hurt, yeesh

    Comment by ls — 10:09 am October 16, 2012 #

  30. Makes perfect sense to me. A teacher with 25+ elementary kids to wrangle has enough of a challenge already without having to get them in and out of costumes and deal with the added distraction of kids messing with other kids’ costumes all day.
    .
    I don’t think most people get how difficult it can be to handle kids in these numbers under the best of circumstances. Parents sending them to school with swords, light sabers, masks, etc. is only going to make it ridiculous to manage.

    Comment by rob — 10:16 am October 16, 2012 #

  31. Lafayette has a fairly small (but amazingly loud and persistent) group of parents with a very strong sense of entitlement. They’ve been sending their kids to Lafayette for longer than Ms. Heath has been the principal there, so they feel like they can run the place. Same goes for a few of the teachers. I understand where they’re coming from, but I do wish they’d just shut up sometimes. Taking this “issue” to the media? Really?

    Comment by Lucky Duck — 10:18 am October 16, 2012 #

  32. As a wise sage once told me, “Grumblers gonna’ grumble”.

    Comment by Coach — 10:19 am October 16, 2012 #

  33. Rather than let the staff decide, let the children take a vote.

    Comment by Bill Bacon — 10:19 am October 16, 2012 #

  34. I’m a mom at Lafayette and had only heard that the main reason for the decision to not allow Halloween was because of “culturally insensitive” reasons. Based solely on this reason, I was (and am) against the decision. Had the Administration just said we’re not going to do costumes because it’s a half day on Halloween, I think most parents would be understanding. (including me) But, that’s not how they communicated it initially. It’s natural for parents to be sad and/or question major changes that occur at the school, especially those that are part of the culture of the school. But, I am very disappointed that one parent chose to involve the media in this issue.

    Comment by WS Mom — 10:22 am October 16, 2012 #

  35. I love how parents are worried about two hours of learning. Really, it’s not going to make the difference between your child going to community college or MIT. (Nothing wrong with either!!) Let the kids have a little fun. If the school staff sees differently – LIVE WITH IT! I am glad I don’t have the “torch and pitch fork” gang showing up at my office when I do something they don’t agree with. Eash!

    Comment by AH Mom — 10:23 am October 16, 2012 #

  36. Hey Lafayette families come to OLG for our Halloween Carnival on Saturday the 20th for 4:00 to 8:00. kids and parents are encouraged to dress in costume. we will have bouncy houses, a haunted house, and fun games for all. see ya there….oh and our kids get to dress up on halloween… go bulldog!

    Comment by no more metro for me — 10:27 am October 16, 2012 #

  37. Re: my question about other schools … a Gatewood parent e-mailed to say the policy at their school is “no costumes.” Anyone who doesn’t want to comment here is always welcome to e-mail us (about this or anything else), editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks.

    Comment by WSB — 10:30 am October 16, 2012 #

  38. There are numerous ways that teachers celebrate holidays in their classes and costumes are really just a part of the fun that doesn’t necessarily make or break Halloween. I’m amazed that with all the countless ways of celebrating Halloween, that parents still feel so strongly about needing to dress up at school as well. Guess what? the kids seem just fine with it. We support Lafayette’s decision and have no doubt that Halloween will still be an awesome day!

    Comment by Seriously! — 10:35 am October 16, 2012 #

  39. Concord is doing pajamas instead of costumes, according to a comment on the WSB Facebook page:
    .
    http://www.facebook.com/westseattleblog/posts/295134283931193?comment_id=31265686&offset=0&total_comments=7

    Comment by WSB — 10:40 am October 16, 2012 #

  40. STEM is not doing costumes this year either.

    Comment by K8 — 10:42 am October 16, 2012 #

  41. Parents “whining” to the media? Yeah, it’s never happened before today. Totally new concept. Sheesh.

    iirc, NOTHING gets accomplished on a half day to begin with. Saying no costumes to focus on curriculum is BS if you ask me, which no one did.

    I agree with the above commenter who said were going sterile. Had I have chosen to breed a few years ago, my child would show up on Wednesday in full Halloween garb.

    Comment by WMF — 10:49 am October 16, 2012 #

  42. Only kindergarteners are allowed to wear costumes at Holy Rosary. I assume the faculty has good reasons for that policy.

    Comment by CMT — 10:53 am October 16, 2012 #

  43. Shocked- Did you not celebrate Halloween and Christmas as a child? I think most Americans did and over and over we are hearing all these LAME excuses to rename it all. I never celebrated harvest or fall, I celebrated Christmas and Halloween. It up to us to stop these renaming acts. I’m not buying the culture offense bs. If we go to other countries ,their cultures are loud and clear and they don’t change their ways for anyone who may be offended. I for one WILL NOT support fundraisers at schools that feel the need to make ridiculous changes like this and as a community, we should all do the same. I’m proud of the parents who went to any media on this subject. Enough is enough, and kids need to be heard. Some of my best memories in school was not my math test but the Halloween parties and the Christmas shopping we were able to do in a classroom for our parents. The CHRISTMAS concerts, not winter concerts. And as far as this half day coming up, anyone with a clear conscience would’ve simply had the costume day one or two days before the half day.
    To the principal: After hearing about this and sharing it with neighbors who normally support your fundraisers, we will be supporting other things down the road from you instead.

    Comment by Alki Resident — 10:56 am October 16, 2012 #

  44. No costumes has been, in the past, policy at Alki — but I think it is up to the teachers really. No masks is a good policy — it is not safe and can be scary for young kids. In my opinion (and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I loved dressing up as a kid and love my child to dress up too) I think school is not really the place to go full on in a costume — maybe a silly hat or face paint would be OK, but not a full costume… too distracting and not usually safe for the playground.

    Book character day at Arbor Hgts.is a novel idea… (pun intended).

    Comment by elaine — 10:57 am October 16, 2012 #

  45. An issue that sadly crosses my mind this year is the shocking shooting at the Colorado theater and the discussion that arose out of identity concealing costumes at movie premiers. I love Halloween! But for that safety reasons alone, i can see why masks and costumes at a busy school are not necessarily a good idea. Teachers and staff need to see who is in the building. Again, sad but true that that was oneIOC my first thoughts. As far as teaching time and Halloween being a distraction– that part doesn’t bother me at all :) But between the pumpkin patch, the junction, trick or treating, and the kids already trying out their costumes daily at home, I’m costumed out by the 31st anyway!

    Comment by Times have changed — 11:00 am October 16, 2012 #

  46. The bottom line for me, as a Lafayette parent, is that I really would like to see the parents let the administrators do their jobs. Personally, I’m pro costumes at school, but I realize it just isn’t my decision to make. And even though I disagree with it, I’m going to let it go for that reason – not my decision (and also not a big deal). Shauna and Karmen are bright women with real vision for the school. Given some time and the benefit of the doubt, I’m confident they are going to do great things for Lafayette. But it is much more difficult for them to do their actual jobs when they have to spend so much time and emotional energy dealing with the disgruntled and entitled vocal minority of parents (and occasionally teachers) at Lafayette.

    Comment by Lucky Duck — 11:00 am October 16, 2012 #

  47. I guess these are the “helicopter” parents I’ve been reading about. In middle school, they’re calling the media because their kid didn’t get to wear their costume to school; in a few years,they’ll be calling the kid’s boss because they didn’t get a big enough pay increase at review time. I’ve actually read about this happening. I guess it’s not enough just to endow the kid with a limitless sense of entitlement anymore. I feel sorry for the teachers who have to deal with these wackadoos.

    Comment by Ajax — 11:05 am October 16, 2012 #

  48. Like the kids will be focused on instruction,anyway. I was a kid, and half day + Halloween = anticipation.

    If you’re concerned about the extra time that the holiday costumes would take from instruction, don’t schedule half days on Halloween. Solved.

    Comment by Mark S — 11:07 am October 16, 2012 #

  49. I disagree that the parent who contacted media was out of line. The fact is that this was a random decision by Ms. Heath & Assistant Principal – and that is exactly what caused chaos at Lafayette last year. As parents we want the best for our kids, and as loving parents – we should demand it. However, being informed of this “change” through our kids – who initially heard it during lunch was inappropriate. Part of Democracy is allowing, including people in your decision making, and while Ms. Heath has been good with her decisions, she seems to be edging towards a dictatorial attitude – which is going to cause more chaos – and frankly no benefit.

    Comment by irked — 11:07 am October 16, 2012 #

  50. the kids also get a Halloween Parade on Wednesday, October 31 at OLG

    Comment by Boo! — 11:09 am October 16, 2012 #

  51. Mark S – the two-hour early-dismissal is districtwide, not just this school.

    Comment by WSB — 11:13 am October 16, 2012 #

  52. My Lafayette child is upset by this ruling. In addition, it was not communicated to the parents – only to the children. It’s also not just about costumes – nothing is being allowed. No costumes, no party, nothing. No day before the short day – nothing. Regardless this is cultural sensitivity – nothing else. They will be banned next year as well – the precedent is set. What goes next – valentines, st patty’s day. All gone in order to be culturally sensitive. There are too many cultures to be sensitive to all. You are going to upset someone. School has to be fun or the children won’t want to continue. Even college was fun. We all get to real life eventually – let them be kids while they still are!

    Comment by Kari — 11:16 am October 16, 2012 #

  53. Civility rule invoked. Random generalization/criticism about this school or any other, its parents, etc., will not be approved for publication, and that’s where some commenters are starting to try to go. The story is about a specific decision/policy and how it unfolded, and you are welcome to discuss that. Thanks.

    Comment by WSB — 11:18 am October 16, 2012 #

  54. Thanks, Lucky Duck, for the rational point of view. Let the administrators do their jobs rather than deal with distractions like this.

    Comment by D — 11:20 am October 16, 2012 #

  55. Usually there are parent helpers in each of the class rooms to help with costume changes, so I don’t think all the teachers are responsible for it. And, many of the teachers also participate in dressing up themselves!
    When a substitue teacher fills in, do you think there isn’t a loss of 1 hour of productivity? Really, much ado about nothing.

    Comment by george — 11:22 am October 16, 2012 #

  56. Hey Irked. It wasn’t a “random decision”. It was a decision made, at the initiative of the teachers, by vote of the whole staff, at an all-hands staff meeting, five days ago. That staff meeting occurred on Wednesday. The info was shared with parents at a PTA meeting that very night and went to the kids on Friday. Taking it to the media still seems nuts to me.

    Comment by Seriously, people. Get over yourselves. Seriously. — 11:32 am October 16, 2012 #

  57. I am an Alki parent and my first grader was asked to not wear a costume. I breathed a sigh of relief. I also thought it was brilliant for the school district to schedule 2 hour early dismissal on Halloween so our kids can go home, have time to finish homework, and get ready for trick-or-treating. As for the cultural sensitivity, one of my saddest memories in school (in the 70s) was of the one little boy who had to sit by himself in the library every year while we celebrated Halloween and Christmas in our classroom.

    Comment by bk — 11:34 am October 16, 2012 #

  58. I’m a Lafayette mom and I am embarrassed that parents would make such a big deal over an administrative decision. No one is cancelling Halloween completely it will still happen 2 or 3 times throughout the week. Talk to the principal not the media! you sound like a bunch of whiners and bullies. As for not supporting Lafayette’s fundraising efforts shame on you, its your child and mine that will have staff and programs cut like computers, art and music not to mention fun traditions like Camp Coleman. Be thankful Lafayette is such a great school start supporting it and stop complaining to the media.
    ilovews

    Comment by ilovews — 11:38 am October 16, 2012 #

  59. I would be thrilled if my kid was asked not to wear a costume! It would be so much easier.

    Comment by Bonnie — 11:51 am October 16, 2012 #

  60. Oh, and another thing. My Mom was a Jehovah’s Witness when I was a child and I can remember the tears when I had to go sit in the office when they celebrated Halloween. Kids made fun of me and it was hard. Of course, I celebrate now with my children but it would be much easier to not dress up for school.

    Comment by Bonnie — 11:52 am October 16, 2012 #

  61. pet peeve in comments; people who “whine” about other people “whining” and/or name-calling them “whiners”; seems to happen every day; not helpful, or courteous; please be nice
    ~
    glad to see WSB covering this; it was on the tv news this morning (although, they called it West Seattle Elementary; so I didn’t know until reading this story that it was really Lafayette Elementary); and clearly by the # of very passionate comments (58 so far), from many points of view, this is news that many care about; I agree with Anne; hearing varied perspectives is a good thing; we can learn a lot if we listen to others
    ~
    glad to see there are many in our community who consider our children’s education to be just as important as “important/critical issues”

    Comment by Diane — 12:07 pm October 16, 2012 #

  62. I have two WSHS students at my house who both went through Lafayette from K-5 back in the early to mid 2000′s. Halloween was just about my favorite day to visit the school – seeing all the kids parade around in their costumes at the end of the day was absolutely priceless. Then, right after school, most of the younger kids headed right out to the Admiral Junction for the (then brand new) trick or treating festivities. I do know that any pretend weapons were not allowed so there were certainly standards applied. Still, it was a wonderfully fun day where kids got to be kids.

    Now, given the half day on Halloween this year, I have to admit that the Costume Parade/Party Time wouldn’t really work on that day. I suspect that this decision would have made sense had it been presented as a time issue first – and, apparently, presented to parents as well as the kids.

    Hopefully, then kids will get chance to do Halloween again next year.

    Comment by Curtis — 12:13 pm October 16, 2012 #

  63. I Love Halloween and the great memories I have of my school’s “Halloween Carnival” put together by the parents and teachers after class was over. We got to go to school in our costumes on Halloween and wear the get-ups all day. Ahhhh I miss the 80′s! I hope the children enjoy the West Seattle “Harvest Festival” in the Junktion on Saturday! I really think it should have been called a “Halloween Harvest Festival” or “Trick-or-Treat-a-Paloozah” or something more fun though.

    Comment by Noelle — 12:25 pm October 16, 2012 #

  64. Some don’t like costumes or other cultural references to traditional American holidays, so they are banned. Well, I don’t like dancing. It’s scary, and I get self-conscious around it. Unfortunately, it happens sometimes at important events (weddings, school dances, etc.). I think we as a progressive society should ban dancing, so I never feel left out.
    .
    I can tell you, a lot more kids are excluded by the social pressure at school dances than by school holiday celebrations. I propose Seattle Public Schools cancel all dances forever.
    .
    We’re being more sensitive now, right? How do we know when we’ve gone too far?

    Comment by Robot — 12:42 pm October 16, 2012 #

  65. I think it is just ridiculous, for multiple reasons. First, there has been no communication from the school about this. They’ve only told the kids, which is not their best way to move forward on what they have to realize will be a disappointing decision, particularly in a school that has so few fun activities as it is. The kids are disappointed. As a Lafayette parent, I’m disappointed too. Second, does the staff, even an incredibly gifted and experienced staff, really believe that they are going to get the kids to focus on lessons on Halloween? If they do, it will be Halloween-focused worksheets and puzzles and books. Third, it is silly that every moment in school has to be education–I understand they are beholden to guidelines from the state and the fed– and that should be something parents are changing. One of the commenters above is right– a few hours of Halloween fun will not make the difference between good and bad test scores or future college acceptances, but it will be a wonderful child-like memory for the children. Fourth, this scheduled part-day has been on the calendar since the calendar was issued early this year (in Spring I think). The school district and teachers knew this would be an issue when they negotiated the calendar. To be shocked, shocked and amazed, only now that the early release is on Halloween and may interfere with the holiday is spurious. Fifth, the changing period argument is silly. I’ve been there before in past years; that school is crawling with parent volunteers. In some classrooms it’s close to 1 adult per every 2-3 kids.

    Worst case, kids can come to school in costumes in the morning. Which is what I bet a lot of kids will do anyway.

    Finally, schools affect many members of our community and the Seattle Schools are public entities–if you don’t like what’s going on, get involved. Community discussions are appropriate and are not whining. Thank you to the WSBlog for giving all members of the community a place to discuss the issues. If a certain issue doesn’t matter to you, then don’t participate in the discussion, but participating only to tell people not to have the discussion is stupid.

    Comment by WSMom — 12:43 pm October 16, 2012 #

  66. Do they get to have halloween parties in the classrooms? Last year my kid (and most of the others) went to school in there costumes………no wasted time changing at school. And for anyone that says Thank Goodness! So much easier for ME……..ummmm being a parent is not all about you and it’s not suposed to be easy.

    Comment by bsmomma — 12:45 pm October 16, 2012 #

  67. This would be a non-issue if Seattle School District required uniforms.

    Comment by margaritaville — 1:00 pm October 16, 2012 #

  68. I love this poster’s name: Seriously, people. Get over yourselves. Seriously.

    Comment by cmc — 1:04 pm October 16, 2012 #

  69. Don’t we, as public school parents, have bigger things to worry about than costumes on Halloween? I can’t believe parents were so upset that they took this to the larger media and that the media then ran with the story. It doesn’t surprise me though. Maybe if these same parents spent a little more time and energy into doing things like fixing peeling paint or advocating for a waiver for a better math curriculum or working at building a more inclusive community at the school, things would be better. Support Ms. Heath because she is clearly advocating for what the majority of her staff want. (Which is a huge improvement over the situation last year). Other schools have the same policy, so is it really so bad? Don’t our kids get enough trick or treating between the various community events and actual Halloween? I think it is ok to skip it at school and make the job of our overworked and underpaid teachers a little easier, especially on a short day like that. Really, we have much bigger problems to focus on than this!

    Comment by kayo — 1:05 pm October 16, 2012 #

  70. Which cultures are costumes/halloween insensitive towards? Not try to start anything but just want to understand the reasoning behind the decision. Thanks.

    Comment by Todd — 1:16 pm October 16, 2012 #

  71. I love how people on blogs use an alias to cast aspersions on folks who have the guts to stand up a speak their mind. Some of the comments on here are so rude… people need to grow up. I’m glad WSB is trying to curb this unwelcome behavior.

    This is a fun part of a kids social development with their friends at school. I remember these days as a kid and to be honest they are some of my more vivid memories from school. I for one think the school stepped in it on this one and they are trying to back out of it without smelling bad.

    Reality is an extra hour or in this case the removal of an hour of academics is not going to effect the overall education of a child. If a child is so dependent on that hour there are some more serious issues that may need to be addressed.

    This sounds like a well intentioned school idea gone bad and when the school was called on it they changed there policy to look better in the media. I called the school over this as well and was not given the time of day. So I for one appreciate what sounds like an effort by many parents to reach the media to draw attention to this and have their voice heard. The best way to draw attention to a subject is to make it public. Maybe an open conversation about this is exactly what is needed? After all it is a public school.

    I know as a parent that the reason this school is so great is parent involvement and the fact that someone finds there child’s social development important enough to call the media to get some answers sounds just fine by me.

    Comment by Lafayette_Parent — 1:22 pm October 16, 2012 #

  72. And who are the ones acting like kids? C’mon people, they aren’t taking away Halloween from your kids. Still plenty of Halloween activities to do outside of school.

    Comment by Alki Girl — 1:23 pm October 16, 2012 #

  73. First, the students at Lafayette still get to celebrate Halloween; the classes are allowed to have parties, the staff just requested no costumes. Second, the kid DO PLAY TAG. The staff considered the idea of no tag at the beginning of the school year and it was later retracted. Ms. Heath is a thoughtful principal looking to improve an already GREAT school. Trying new things and making changes is part of the process. Discussion both for and against costumes is good. It teaches our children to think, & stand up for what they believe in!

    On a side note, it is really sad that some Lafayette parents have commented on this thread that they are not participating in school fundraiser’s because of the staff’s decision on Halloween. Is that the lesson we want to teach our children? “Give me MY way or else!” Sounds like a temper tantrum to me!

    Comment by Westseattlemom — 1:32 pm October 16, 2012 #

  74. I would be heart sick if Schmitz Park banned Halloween! I would then assuage that pain the same way I deal with the fact that my company ignors my favorite holiday – I take the day off and spend it carving many pumpkins =-). If you’re offended by the decision (and I support you in that) keep your kids home that day and spend it doing fun Halloween stuff. It’s a half day, so you know they’re not missing much ;-).

    And they can’t call it truancy if it’s a religious holiday – which being culturally sensitive they have to recognize that for some people it is!

    Comment by Ms. Sparkles — 1:50 pm October 16, 2012 #

  75. I will say that when our daughter was in elementary school she was allowed to dress in her Halloween costume for 2-3 years and then it was change to book character day. Not a big deal because she could wear her costume at the Trick or Treat in the Junction and also on halloween.

    Our only suggest would be for the kids to have a say on which book character they want to dress as and not make all the kids wear an alike costume.

    Book character day does help promote reading and is especially good for the kids who do not have the support of their families to be readers.our anxiety so please relax and calm down and enjoy the extra time with your kids aking your book character day costume and reading with your kids.

    Time goes by so quickly and before you know it you will be worrying about prom night and your child learning to drive.

    The kids feel y

    Comment by Lisa — 2:00 pm October 16, 2012 #

  76. “I love how people on blogs use an alias to cast aspersions on folks who have the guts to stand up a speak their mind.”
    .
    you got me, my name is actually robert. :-)

    Comment by rob — 2:06 pm October 16, 2012 #

  77. @Kayo – bravo! This is much ado about nothing.
    @Noelle – the Junction Harvest Festival/trick or treating is on Sunday this year, in conjunction with the Sunday farmers market.

    Comment by Jennifer — 2:23 pm October 16, 2012 #

  78. The fact that this topic is getting air time is ridiculous.

    Kids will have fun on Halloween regardless of whether or not they’re in costume at school. If even a portion of the energy going into this dialogue were directed into the level of instruction taking place in the classroom we would all be better off – and so would our kids.

    And that’s where Ms. Heath comes in. She knows what she is doing. She is a pro with a stand-up track record. She’s also a collaborative leader who doesn’t make random decisions.

    I wish the contrarians would sit back for one day? week? month? and let our school heal. The adversarial culture this small group of vocal parents is creating is toxic.

    Comment by Leopard Mania — 2:25 pm October 16, 2012 #

  79. Dear lord. 10 minutes of costume changing one day out of the year are not going to make or break a child’s education. It sounds like “focus on academics” is a cover for political correctness. Bummer.

    Comment by Krystal — 2:36 pm October 16, 2012 #

  80. There is a white media van with broadcasting equipment parked on the 45th Ave side of Lafayette in the no parking area. Bet they will be looking to get opinions from people picking up kids from school, hurry on over and see if they want yours.

    Comment by Gina — 2:41 pm October 16, 2012 #

  81. Also, for those of you who think childhood is getting a little too, um, politically correct and/or sterile (no tag! no costumes! no walking to school!), you might enjoy Free Range Kids. Interesting (and controversial) blog on raising your child, basically the anti- helicopter parent blog. I’m not a parent, just a former teacher and nanny. I get a bang out of it, though!

    Comment by Krystal — 2:44 pm October 16, 2012 #

  82. I’m a Lafayette Parent, and I’m pro-fun.

    ***

    I think there are two issues here. The first is whether costumes should be allowed at school on Halloween. That, to me, seems like a fairly minor issue, albeit an interesting one, when one considers things like cultural sensitivity and productive use of the school day, on one hand, and the value of fun and enrichment on the other. It’s an interesting and worthy topic of discussion because it reaches all sorts of other interesting moral and philosophical questions. Personally, I’m a big believer in enrichment and I think wearing costumes to school is enriching. I think the value and lasting memories outweigh the possible negative aspects, which I have not yet heard articulated very convincingly. That is my personal, slightly informed, parent’s perspective on it. My wife, a teacher, might disagree with me. Anyway, given a vote, I’d vote “yes” on costumes.

    ***

    And that brings me to the second issue, which I think is more important than the first, although possibly less interesting. I don’t get a vote on this. I don’t think I DESERVE a vote on this. I am a parent. This is not a question that I am qualified to answer, and it’s not something I’m in charge of, even if I were qualified. There are many many ways I can control what my kids get out of life. This just isn’t one of them. And that’s OK. With all due respect to the person or people who took this to the media or who wrote nasty letters or emails or whatever, some of whom are probably my friends (hopefully, our friendship can survive such drama!), please consider picking your battles. Educating kids is a complicated thing. It is a balancing act. We won’t always agree on the best approach, and if something is really important, by all means, let’s talk about it. But as you feel your temperature rising, ask yourself: is this really a big deal? In this case, I just can’t see how it is. It’s four hours of costume wearing in a day and age where the concept of Halloween has exploded to the point that my family is still eating Halloween candy from 2007. Those four hours at school just can’t be that critical. Many of us saw Shauna ride onto the playground on a fire truck to kick off the school year. She is a parent. She’s not anti-fun. There is no larger issue here. And if there is a larger issue that I’m missing, please consider a way to address it that is less distracting to the ultimate mission faced by our schools. Please give these really qualified people the benefit of the doubt for a while and let them focus on doing what they’ve been hired to do – educate our kids.

    Comment by Chris W — 2:56 pm October 16, 2012 #

  83. Thank you Westseattlemom! Lafayette is NOT the terrible place it is often portrayed as. My kid plays tag at recess, his class is still having a Halloween party, and he’s fine without wearing a costume. He’ll be trick or treating later, so it’s not that big of a deal. There are plenty of costume options in West Seattle.
    Also, this was discussed at the PTA meeting, so the kids didn’t hear of it first.
    Thank you Ms. Heath for listening to your staff and incorporating their thoughts in your policies!

    Comment by Mary — 3:00 pm October 16, 2012 #

  84. Look the reality is most kids really enjoy halloween, whether they dress up or not! So it is a bummer to have this experience taken away from them. Of course it is a distraction, that is what parties are and why they don’t happen every day. Will they get over not celebrating Halloween in school, of course we all get over disappointment.
    The real issue to me is how the decision was communicated! The VP announced at a PTA meeting with minimal attendance that there will be no costumes because it is culturally insensitive and she announced it to the children during lunch period as well. As a parent of a very sad student, I still have not gotten anything in writing 6 days after the decision was made at Lafayette. I have only read on the blog and other media outlets today that the reason has been changed “to not enough time on the early dismissal day.”
    I can only guess the reason I have not gotten any response is this PR nightmare is still being resolved on how to properly spin it so they come out looking good.

    Comment by Costume advocate — 3:11 pm October 16, 2012 #

  85. I am really floored by this whole discussion. It sounds to me like Ms. Heath made this decision in an entirely appropriate way. She spoke with her staff and their feedback was that they did not want costumes in school. Since this is the staff who are providing their input, I would say they have their reasons for not wanting costumes at school and their wishes should be respected. As far as parents not being informed – well it sounds like the final decision was just made today, so they haven’t had a chance to send out any notices, etc. Give the school a day or two – there are still a couple of weeks before Halloween.

    Ms. Heath has a great reputation, and I think will be a good principal for Lafayette. I think parents need to give her a chance and not get upset over every decision she makes. She is the principal – she is there to make decisions. These decisions are not going to be liked by everyone – but they need to be made – if it’s something where parent input is appropriate/needed, I’m sure she will ask for it. Trust me, it’s far worse to be in a situation where the principal does not know how to lead. You are lucky to have a strong, thoughtful principal at your building.

    There are so many other opportunities for Halloween fun in West Seattle that I fail to see how not allowing costumes in school is going to be so sad for the kids. Seriously, if you act like adults and get over your anger/disappointment, the kids will too and they will be fine. I am sure the school has other opportunities for fun and memorable events. If not, perhaps get on the PTA and suggest some!

    Comment by parentofone — 3:26 pm October 16, 2012 #

  86. Must be a slow news day for the local news to send a news crew over to report on something like this. There are much more pressing issues in SPS than Halloween!

    Comment by Bonnie — 3:34 pm October 16, 2012 #

  87. Very impassioned group here.
    There are over 80 comments about this, in all reality, not-very-big-deal happening at Lafayette.
    There are zero comments about the Mayor, Superintendent, and community leaders visiting Roxhill today.
    Let’s take all this energy we’re putting toward something that in a month isn’t going to matter, and raise money to build wells in Africa or something. Do something positive and productive. Smile for no reason. You’ll feel like a million bucks.

    Comment by Addie — 3:36 pm October 16, 2012 #

  88. This is a great reason for charter schools. Parents wanting this or that can choose where their kids/tax dollars go.

    Comment by Ace20604 — 3:55 pm October 16, 2012 #

  89. I am amazed that people don’t see the importance of this issue. Halloween is an American tradition. I dressed up at school for Halloween. My parents dressed up at school for Halloween. My grandparents dressed up at school for Halloween. Even my Great Grandparents dressed up at school for Halloween. It is a shame that my children will not be able to. Halloween is a very important holiday.

    Comment by WSTroll — 4:16 pm October 16, 2012 #

  90. I’m amazed.

    Really, if this is the biggest problem at your SPS school, you should consider yourself really really lucky. With the Charter Schools vote about to happen, and all the issues raised by the District’s handling of the BEX levy… With ARbor Heights falling down around its students… Halloween costumes are an issue warranting nearly 100 comments.

    My child goes to STEM. Not only will there be no costumes, the kids will be in uniforms.

    IMHO, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to be in costumes outside of school, from The Junction to parties to malls to trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods. Halloween isn’t cancelled, for crying out loud.

    Comment by ChrisSouth — 4:25 pm October 16, 2012 #

  91. go Addie

    Comment by Diane — 4:33 pm October 16, 2012 #

  92. I don’t understand how “no Halloween costume” can be so devastating to parents! And I do mean parents! As kids we look up to our parents and when we see them upset about things we get upset as well. It’s our job to turn something you perceive as negative into a positive! Get them excited about going out after school in their costumes! Problem solved!

    Comment by Pete — 4:37 pm October 16, 2012 #

  93. No costumes is disappointing to most Lafayette families – we know many schools don’t allow them anymore. For me, it was nice that Lafayette embraced this “Old-school” tradition. Parents like to see their kids enjoy the things they enjoyed as kids. that’s all. The change reasoning is lame (there will still be class parties and lots of candy). I don’t think it was one reason, I think there were lots. But, in this decision, they failed as think about what the community would want. It’s too bad.
    And everyone complaining about whether or not this is news.. really? you’re the one reading it! If it doesn’t concern you, keep scrolling.

    Comment by Angie — 4:56 pm October 16, 2012 #

  94. Why are these festivals in school? Keep them as after school activities.

    Book character day is a great compromise.

    Comment by Fred — 5:06 pm October 16, 2012 #

  95. Went to Catholic school for 9 years and we always got to wear our costumes. The public school system sucks. Go private!

    Comment by Watchdog — 5:10 pm October 16, 2012 #

  96. I’m confused. First, it sounds like the decision was made by the staff and relayed at the PTA meeting. If the parents who are ticked off that they didn’t get a personal phone call to discuss the staff’s decision, maybe you will rethink not going to your pta mtgs in the future. Second, it seems that the cultural issue was said in error and the actual reasoning was clarified by Ms. Heath so why are some of you still bringing that part up? And third, I am pretty sure Ms. Heath and the rest of the staff is focused on what is best for the students. Like others have said, there is plenty of time for them to wear their costumes after school and into the night. Keep up the good work Ms. Heath!!

    Comment by Christina — 5:15 pm October 16, 2012 #

  97. This was on the news tonight. http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/west-seattle-elementary-school-bans-halloween-cost/nSfDN/ Really? Really? Completely ridiculous. There are schools with real problems AH is falling apart, etc. and the news only cares about Lafayette not having their Halloween party.

    Comment by WSMom3 — 5:47 pm October 16, 2012 #

  98. “No costumes is disappointing to most Lafayette families”
    Angie, please don’t generalize. Everyone I talked to about this (non)issue supports Principal Heath’s announcement (and the teachers’ decision). We are a varied group of parents and kids with differing opinions. No one should generalize that “most” of us said one thing or another. Please, folks, channel your energy into something worthwhile. Reminds me of a saying: These are first world problems….

    Comment by Lafmom — 6:24 pm October 16, 2012 #

  99. thank goodness Lafayette has one of their most enjoyable and unifying PTA events this Friday; the 2012 Fire it Up Walk-A-Thon.
    This will give us all a chance to pull together and remember why we are there and why we love this school, for the students, the community and the great education Lafayette provides them.

    Comment by Ilovews — 6:35 pm October 16, 2012 #

  100. “and as loving parents – we should demand it” I call BS on that crap. That attitude is to h*ll with everyone else, I’m gonna justify my tantrum because I love my kid and want the best for him or her. So what if it kicks kids out of buildings, so what if it means lousy schools for everyone else. I. got. mine.

    Comment by skeptical — 6:37 pm October 16, 2012 #

  101. “There are too many cultures to be sensitive to all.” Right so the tyranny of the majority over the minority. And those disabled kids can just stay home.

    My child recently graduated from Lafayette. I can recall the overbearing PTSA prez and principal. Never got a warm and fuzzy feel from my fellow parents or the admin. My child’s ed was good so for that I am grateful. There are PLENTY of neighborhood Halloween activities. Our strained schools and staff don’t need one more thing on their plate.

    Comment by skeptical — 6:42 pm October 16, 2012 #

  102. Halloween, trick-or-treat, and costumes can and will happen after school for the children who are allowed to celebrate the holiday. I can think of no good reason for costumes at school unless there is a play.

    Comment by Parent N. Teacher — 6:50 pm October 16, 2012 #

  103. Some of you are missing the point: school is where your friends are (some for life). Its where social bonding begins. Getting dressed up with ALL your friends is exciting. Outside of school, you won’t have the chance to be with everyone. Its a social thing, have some fun with it.
    For the teachers who voted no, I’d like to ask them to vote off the winter holiday break (oops, is it pc to say holiday?). I like to worship the sun, so getting out two week early in summer sounds much better.
    Tyranny? Really? Isn’t that what elections are for too? Do you feel under one? Handcuffed maybe, but tyranny?

    Comment by george — 7:35 pm October 16, 2012 #

  104. 100 plus comments really……….really?

    Comment by leroy — 8:11 pm October 16, 2012 #

  105. Oh boy really. Question – Am I still able to take my Halloween mug to work? Or am I being culturally insensitive? Too late! It’s there!

    LOL. 1 more comment.

    Comment by themightyrabbit — 8:24 pm October 16, 2012 #

  106. It’s school. Let the teachers and staff make the decisions.

    I can’t count the number of hours I have spent as a teacher discussing whether or not kids should wear costumes, etc. if only I could have spent that much time collaborating with other teachers or parents to help every student learn as much as possible during the year.

    I am not against fun, or costumes. My students do wear costumes. But it isn’t a wasted day, we still teach, have classes, and have a small party.

    If you disagree, keep your child home, let them wear a costume, figure out activities to keep them focused, possibly learn something, and then go trick-or-treating.

    Comment by NativeToSeattle — 9:11 pm October 16, 2012 #

  107. Wow- Do you not have anything more important to do with your lives? Get over yourselves! Really- do you not have anything better to do?

    Comment by AML — 9:23 pm October 16, 2012 #

  108. Spare me, let the kids enjoy the day, how much is really going to get accomplished on that early dismissal day, costumes of no costumes.

    Comment by Chrisd — 10:02 pm October 16, 2012 #

  109. @ Get over yourselves & CMC – how do you know the facts related to this? My kid was told at a recess – well before the PTA meeting on Wednesday ? Maybe the administration needs to be careful how they communicate controversial decisions to Parents – clearly didn’t happen in this case. This is exactly the type of dictatorial decision making that created an “educationally distracting” year in 2011-12! I would imagine that this new administration and the PTA would want to make sure they don’t let history repeat itself ? Or maybe you think, we should just wait till our kids come back one day and tell us they got informed they need to wear uniforms starting some random future date – and then we can again chart it off to Administrations Decision – parents just suck up and “get over yourselves?”

    Comment by irked — 10:10 pm October 16, 2012 #

  110. Lafmom – wow – so nearly 100 parents/adults upset enough to come here and comment in a school of 300 or so – and you think Angie is “generalizing” ?? I bet you also think that since you were told we attacked Iraq to destroy “weapons of mass destruction” – you bought that hook, line and sinker? All teachers were clearly NOT in support of this ban – and some extra vocal grinches stole the day.

    I got one for you – “get over yourself” !

    Comment by irked — 10:17 pm October 16, 2012 #

  111. really respect Lafayette’s common sense decision to keep Halloween out of school. Halloween (as are Christmas and Easter) is a profit driven event that racks up Billions for corporations. If people choose to be brainwashed so deeply they are offended that the school would rather conduct class than focus on a day which is by all means a personal preference and not one preferred by everyone. Some folks do not acknowledge this day nor appreciate seeing death, evil, spider’s, witches and other ridiculous stuff everywhere we go in the name of fun.

    Folks have the right to cerebrate Halloween or any other fantasy events they like in the comfort of their own homes. Even though the decision was for academic reasons I may add it is not the schools obligation to humor some at the expense of others… so I say.. its time to take turns kids.. For those of us who dont want Halloween in school, its our turn to have our say and not have it ,.. you have had your way of having this nonsense crammed down the throat of those of us who dont like it long enough.

    Enjoy your holiday, at your house!

    I do have a child and I dont teach her about vampires, witches, goblins and other symbolic ritualistic evils… she learns this crap from other kids and then I have to explain the nonsense… ugh. Imagine what better things the world could do with 7 Billion dollars this year.

    Comment by SAM — 10:45 pm October 16, 2012 #

  112. Think out side the box . . . The parents who want to could/should work together to make their own Halloween parade/festival/party for the kids after school on the day or maybe the friday before Halloween. It would not take much time to have the kids dress up for an hour and have the fun of seeing each other all decked out. Maybe ask if they could use a space at the school? Have a small fund raiser for decorations? Where there is a will, there is a way. It is just too bad there is such short notice this year.

    Comment by Noelle — 2:13 am October 17, 2012 #

  113. Interesting reading -
    A few personal thoughts
    1. 10 pm-ish comment by irked seems to cross the ‘civility’ boundry
    2. Almost 3 pm comment by Chris W is outstanding
    3. I have no idea what our school policy is & I’ll be fine with whatever it is (& yes, I adore Halloween)

    Comment by Yma — 4:57 am October 17, 2012 #

  114. To me, it’s simple. It’s about the kids. My kids came home upset about it, and,the main point to me is – they don’t understand why. Maybe their teacher didn’t explain it to them well enough, maybe the principal didn’t. But they don’t understand why “the principal took Halloween away from them.” I don’t run the school and don’t claim to or want to, so, whatever decisions the faculty makes, I support. But please, explain to the kids better.

    Comment by Joel — 7:15 am October 17, 2012 #

  115. Dear angie, i mean Irked, 1) Lafayette has more than 500 kids 2) did you tally up the oinions of the over 100 comments to see how the cards fell? By a mere glance I would say its about 1/3 who care, 1/3 who don’t and another 1/3 who think the entire discussion is absurd.

    Comment by Lafmom — 7:44 am October 17, 2012 #

  116. First world problems…

    Comment by La neta — 7:51 am October 17, 2012 #

  117. There is a major problem with the new reason drafted by the school for canceling Halloween. It has been said that it’s because Halloween falls on a half day this year. If you take a full week, and one day is a half day, you add up all of the hours from that week you would come up with X. Whether the party is on a full day or a half day it will still take the same amount of academic time away from that week. The notion that they canceled this because it’s a half day is an excuse… The kids will get the same amount of education either way. It is a net net outcome on an academics to social event ratio for the week. I’m a little afraid that our educators can’t understand this?

    The school has a credibility issue now, this clearly has nothing to do with time for academics. However academics is a good bunker to hide in! They know that that this is a hard position to attack. Who wants to be the person painted as trying to take education away from the kids? Plain and simple this is school politics hard at work. The school knows it cant change the position and have Halloween now because if they do they would set precedent. Which is if you don’t like the decision of the school make it public. So they came up with their defense, the only choice they had at this point. The school is in check, they have no moves other than this and their actions have put them here. Now they have to deal with the pressure and hope it dies down sooner than later.

    Why is all of this good? In the future the school will have to take all sides on difficult or polarizing issue or risk the same outcome. They will think twice before shoving policy down peoples throat. It’s always hard to swallow something when your being force fed. I say it’s a longterm win for all on this, if you can get people talking and come up with solutions in the future that will take all sides into account you are on the right track. The only ones who lose on this is the kids but trust me I’m sure they will recover as soon as their bags are full of candy 3 hours later. I hope the school learns from this.

    Comment by Lafayette_Parent — 9:37 am October 17, 2012 #

  118. I really don’t get the uproar over this non-issue. As a child growing up in the 70′s, we never wore costumes to school. Frankly, I see no reason for it. We’d come home from school that evening, put on our costumes and go out trick or treating. Being a neighborhood school, we’d see all of our friends out that night.
    .
    Granted, Halloween has changed quite a bit since then. It’s not just one night anymore. This year, my son has Halloween activities on the 25th, 26th, 30th and 31st. If we wanted, there would be activities on the 27th and 28th as well. It’s no longer just a single night of fun, but instead a whole week of trick or treating and costumes.
    .
    Do the kids really lose that much by focusing on school work for a couple of hours instead of having yet one more Halloween activity on their plates?

    Comment by Huindekmi — 10:29 am October 17, 2012 #

  119. I was surprised to see so much up in arms about not having Halloween in school. They didn’t cancel Halloween, they just said not in school. My child doesn’t have Halloween in school, and he doesn’t feel he is missing anything.
    I would love to see more support and respect of school administration. I would also love to see this much support of making this a great school. When parents talk disrespectfully about whats going on at school, they are teaching their child to be disrespectful too!

    Comment by TLC — 11:00 am October 17, 2012 #

  120. In response to the post about X # of hours; Not true, and here’s why.. When working from a full day schedule, teachers/administrators can ensure that critical academic timeslots remain intact. Educators recognize that the more difficult academic tasks are most successfully tackled in the early part of the day, so a potential suggestion of doubling up on one of the full days is really not that ideal.

    Comment by yes2ws — 11:07 am October 17, 2012 #

  121. Dear Lafmom, you’re correct, I did not take a survey. My post was an opinion based on my experience most of the people I talked to(a lot like most of these posts). I think most comment readers understand that. And, mostly I disagree with your analysis and categorizations of these posts. GO HALLOWEEN!

    Comment by Angie — 11:24 am October 17, 2012 #

  122. I really feel the need to address the following.. This particular line from the X post seems terribly condescending and signifies a much deeper issue that the Lafayette community is/will have to deal with. [I’m a little afraid that our educators can’t understand this?] Was that really necessary? I mean, even if your logic had been accurate, that particular comment seems completely uncalled for.

    Comment by yes2ws — 11:24 am October 17, 2012 #

  123. To yes2ws, to be very clear I never suggested to double up on the full day. Also my questioning about the schools inability to reasonably think about scheduling and simple math, is necessary in my opinion? I believe it is a problem and I feel it needed to be addressed. You don’t have to agree but please don’t ask me to not worry about what I see as a potential issue and dismiss it as condescending.

    The math does not work for the schools position that the half day is the problem. The only way to potentially add more academic hours is if they get rid of the social event in question be it a half or full day so they can focus on academics during that time. That is the only way you get a net gain in academic hours for the week. This is not the schools position though.

    I also don’t agree that the teachers schedule is not flexible enough to move around an hour to make it work… There is and has been more than enough time to plan this into the day. There are also studies that show kids learn more after physical activity and less after lunch. Do we put them on a treadmill and not feed them? Now that was condescending and I agree not necessary;) but thought injecting a little humor is needed on this subject. A solution might be schedule the party at the end of the half day… Then their peak learning hours are not interrupted and it addresses your point.

    Comment by Lafayette_Parent — 12:38 pm October 17, 2012 #

  124. I find so much of this discussion to be missing the key point, although a few folks have reached the same conclusion as I. I have no problem with a decision to keep the school day focused on education, and I’m frankly amazed by the passion that some of my fellow parents are showing for this issue. My daughter will have plenty of opportunities to partake in Halloween festivities over the next few weeks.

    That said, one of the strengths of the current administration is that they started the year with a focus on parent communications. I do think there is a lesson here in terms of ensuring that parents are in the loop sooner rather than later, and I’m confident that the lesson has been taken to heart. Unfortunately though, someone thought Halloween was such a big deal that local TV stations had to be brought into the mix. Really? We have an obligation to teach our kids to focus on what’s important, and even if we personally wish that they would be celebrating the holiday in the classroom with costumes, bringing in the media is just over the top. Let’s save that for the next outstanding Popcorns performance, a school play, or some other issue that has educational merit. Bringing them into this kind of silly stuff reflects poorly on all of us.

    Comment by Another LES parent — 12:51 pm October 17, 2012 #

  125. ‘What? That big mean principal won’t let my baby wear his Halloween costume to school? Well I’m going to show that mean Principal and call the news agencies and get her in trouble! I’ll show her!’ Really, that is how stupid this all is. Get real people. Put your energy into improving your school with a new math program or something else important and let the Principal do her job. Quit making your school look bad.

    Comment by West Seattle Mom — 1:13 pm October 17, 2012 #

  126. I think the school could benefit from a yahoo group or other in-house message board where parents can have discussions without the input of the larger public. I think it would aid in the feeling of community at the school, give a place for parents to ask questions etc, and have discussions about this sort of issue without taking it to the larger media. I don’t think this sort of public outcry over such a matter is good for the climate or perceptions of the school. There are lovely and dedicated people at Lafayette and in our case it just wasn’t a good fit, but for many families it is a great fit. Set up a yahoo board, hash these issues out within your school community and create a positive information support network for the parents at the school. This was something I would’ve loved as a parent at the school last year. Hope this whole issue gets resolved without too much more drama and everyone can move on as there really are much more pressing issues at Lafayette and I think Ms. Heath and her staff deserve the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

    Comment by kayo — 2:21 pm October 17, 2012 #

  127. Are you kidding me? Yes, of course instruction time is more important than Halloween costumes. Are you sending your kids to school so they can just be out of your way and enjoy themselves? I am sending mine to Lafayette to learn and become great grown-ups and I support the new Principal’s idea to make this school one of the best in the country. Where I grew up Halloween did not even exist, and guess what… I made it just fine and had a very happy childhood. Your kids will survive, and might even be better off. Seriously, next time you are in disagreement, just find some time to discuss it directly with the school staff.

    Comment by Local Mom — 2:42 pm October 17, 2012 #

  128. wow. I didn’t even know kids WORE costumes to school. Really? Why do they need to? There is the actual evening of trick or treating, Junction and Admiral events plus a myriad of OTHER events.

    I’m stunned. Growing up in the 60′s & 70′s, I don’t recall it even being a possibility.

    Comment by BMC — 3:00 pm October 17, 2012 #

  129. To be honest, from an outside perspective it looks like several of the parents are angry because they were not consulted and/or their blessing was not sought for what, to me, appears to be something that should be solely an administrative decision. As a parent, I would never expect the administration to consult me as to whether or not students were allowed to wear costumes in their classrooms on Halloween. It’s hard to believe that this frenzy is solely due to Halloween costumes but rather about a disagreement about how much say parents should have in the running of the school.

    Comment by CMT — 4:24 pm October 17, 2012 #

  130. Again, parents contacting media to air their grievances with school personnel is dysfunctional. It serves to create an unhealthy atmosphere inside the school and the children all feel this disturbance. Obviously going so far as to involve the news over this has nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with parents wanting to put the spotlight on themselves/agendas through the use of their kids’ school. Bad for kids. I wish the “sound thinking” majority of Lafayette parents would protest this behavior.

    Comment by Bunny — 9:10 pm October 17, 2012 #

  131. A real school problem is my 7th grader is in a Science class at Madison with no teacher. They are not the only one I think there are two classes full of students in this same situation. The school does not have any more room / $ for teacher headcount so these students are sitting in class with substitutes, more than 4 different ones so far. To top it off our first progress reports came home this week and these students don’t have a grade either. Many students didn’t get a language because again there is not enough money to pay for another class. These are REAL problems, not being able to waste yet another school day (or half day) with a party and distractions taking away from at least one student learning are not a REAL problem. My vote is for Charter Schools I am done with Seattle Public Schools. There are bigger issues in our schools.

    Comment by ? ? ? — 10:41 pm October 17, 2012 #

  132. I’m a mom of two Lafayette kids, and my kids are disappointed that they will not be wearing costumes to school on Halloween. They’ll get over it. And it will be good for them to have to do so.

    I am embarrassed by those who are making such a big deal of this. This was a decision made by the entire staff in light of what they deemed best for our entire school community. And official communication was sent out to families over two weeks before Halloween. Many of those who so vehemently object to this decision claim to be doing so in light of preserving their children’s experience of childhood. I’d imagine that what those children are most impacted by as this issue unfolds, is the anger of their parents. Have we not all invested the past several years trying to teach our kids not to throw a tantrum when they don’t get their way? Who do we expect them to become as adults if this is the behavior we are modeling? How about teaching our kids to be flexible? How about teaching them to be sensitive to those of other cultures (which may, indeed, have been a secondary factor…heaven forbid)? How about teaching them that they may not get their way all of the time? How about teaching them that there are other people on the planet? People with real problems…

    I am in agreement with those who have said that the parents who are opposed to the decisions that have been made are the very vocal minority. Their objections are not reflective of the vast majority of Lafayette parents who support our administration and staff and are thankful for the competent leadership of Ms. Heath.

    Comment by RP — 11:07 am October 18, 2012 #

  133. I was avoiding commenting but when I heard parents are making threats to the school I couldn’t let that go! Folks, if you think threatening anyone over this is OK, you need to seek professional help.
    Everyone pay attention. This were bullying starts, at home. If you are that made over costumes , you aren’t caple of reason. Not every parent at this school is crazy. Because we are mature and rational you don’t hear or see us acting a fool.

    Comment by J — 11:50 am October 18, 2012 #

  134. Wow..I am a mom and Pres of a PTA at an Oregon elementary school. This story flashed across an Oregon news website. Seriously? Come on folks. Are there not bigger and more important battles to fight when it comes to your child’s educational experience? Instead of whining about this “issue”, go out and vote next month for your state Reps and legislators who may actually help to reform Seattle’s public schools and make a “real” difference in their education. You obviously need something to do with your time!

    Comment by LF — 3:31 pm October 18, 2012 #

  135. Are you kidding?? The fact that I’m 40 and NEVER was allowed to wear costumes, as a child, to school and the fact, neither has my son who is 10, makes me wonder WTH!!! We could not wait to get home and gather with friends to go out TRICK OR TREATING….remember that?!! And remember what the holiday is in the first place… And how disrespectful folks are to NOT be respectful to other folks, it’s gross….some people are just so selfish…Get some friends and go out and TRICK or TREAT!!! Can’t stand people who act like they are better then others…We are all on this planet together…grow up!!

    Comment by truth — 11:23 pm October 18, 2012 #

  136. Right on RP!! Teach your children well…

    Comment by truth be told — 11:43 pm October 18, 2012 #

  137. Finally a school that does what schools are supposed to do – educate! Meanwhile, dear parents, log off of your IPads, Iphones, turn off your sitcoms and Monday Night Football and see where US students rank worldwide in math, science and the rest. Why don’t you look at your kids’ clasroom roster and realize that immigrant kids excell in everything, while you worry about costumes and how far your boy can throw an oddly shaped ball…

    Comment by Wake up folks — 8:35 am October 19, 2012 #

  138. There are many issues here. Primary among them is that the administrators seem to be giving in to an illogical premise. Somehow, although they dont explain how, an American tradition is offensive to newcomers. First, this says that said newcomers are intolerant of this American tradition. This is a multicultural society. They had better learn to deal with cultures and subcultures that offend them. These administrators are doing the opposite of that. Instead of teaching them to get along and deal with our multicultural society and traditions, they are teaching them to try and shut down what they don’t like. Its a contradiction.

    Dovetailing from that, why do the administrators feel that the event or side that has to be compromised is the long standing American tradition? Why not stick by our American traditions?

    I’m waiting for an answer to the question (maybe one of the posters here can answer) as to why or how Halloween is offensive to other cultures, who seem to be intolerant, and why the administrators gave in to their intolerance? That is rewarding intolerance, not teaching tolerance.

    Comment by American Culture — 7:01 pm October 20, 2012 #

  139. American Culture (et al);
    It was the costumes only that were banned (not a good word here). NOT THE HOLIDAY! The reason for it was that it is a 1/2 school day. You add the lunches and a party, there simply was no time for costumes too. And this was done ONLY FOR THIS YEAR due to the 1/2 day. My god this outpouring of misinformation is ridiculous!

    Thank you to those who read fully, comprehended and undertstood. This decision was not made in a mean-spirited (pun intended) way, but rather logistics.

    Comment by Caprial — 5:03 am October 22, 2012 #

  140. My son attends Lafayette Elementary School.

    I also work for Q13fox and am not thrilled about the coverage of this story (I love Maria, though – she’s a sweetheart, so it’s not her fault the story is getting bumped around as a “Ban on Halloween”. Man, I wanna kick a can over that.).

    My son and I sat down and discussed what he thinks about the situation. While he is a little disappointed he said he hates when people dress like zombies – they really freak him out. So, he’s happy that there’s not going to be any zombies at school that day.

    We talked about how it’s a half-day, how it might distract from studies. We talked about how a school year works and if they miss too many days because of say, snow, days must be made up at the end of the year – as his previous school did last year. If we distract our days away from study too much, we have to make up for them elsewhere and maybe this plus other factors are asking people to wait to dress in costume after school. We discussed how I didn’t have costumes in any of my schools growing up and it wasn’t as big a deal as it is now.

    He’ll get to go home and dress up for the rest of the day.

    He’ll go trick-or-treating.

    He’ll still get his Holiday, it’s still Halloween, it’s not that big a deal.

    Nothing has been ruined!

    I support the decision. For now. Let’s see what next year brings, Halloween falls on a Thursday in 2013.

    My seven-year-old is fine and mature enough to go with the flow with the school’s decision because he was appropriately informed of what’s going on and NOT pulled into the hysterics of over-blowing the very real hurt feelings of some kids into a “parental movement”, he is fine.

    And that’s what matters.

    Comment by BrassyMomma — 12:35 pm October 22, 2012 #

  141. BrassyMomma; Well said. And way to go on embracing a “teaching moment” for your son. You should change your moniker to “ClassyMomma”.

    Comment by Caprial — 7:47 pm October 22, 2012 #

  142. Thanks Caprial :)

    Comment by BrassyMomma — 1:41 am October 25, 2012 #

  143. Caprial,

    Nice try to minimize the cultural damage the liberal brand has taken here, but, I’ve read quite a bit about this. It seems the explanation has changed once the protests began. I would have far less of a problem if this was really about a half day and learning time, etc. However, this article doesn’t mention the prior comments about cultural sensitivities. Sorry, but the toothpaste is out of the tube. Everything after that is damage control.

    I would still like answers to my questions above.

    Thank you

    Comment by American Culture — 6:39 pm October 25, 2012 #

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