An Oregon school district's call to back off on the use of Santa in holiday decorating has stirred quite a controversy.
A memo sent to staff members at the Hillsboro School District reads, in part:
We will not be holding a door decorating contest this year. You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus.
Hillsboro School District spokeswoman Beth Graser told KREM 2’s sister station, KGW, that the memo was only sent to secondary principals as a reminder to be sensitive about the environments created in the school over the holiday season.
"We were NOT banning Santa, nor were we going to be the 'decorations police' and scold people if they happened to have decorations up that might be too Christmas-y," Graser said, "unless they were totally over the top."
“If a classroom turns into the Christmas version of a haunted house and you have to walk down candy cane lane then that's a different story,” she said.
KREM 2 asked some of the local school districts to expand on their holiday decorations policies.
In Spokane Public Schools, things are left up to each individual school.
"There's no district wide policy on decorations of what may or may not happen. We believe that's up to each individual school community,” said Kevin Morrison, the director of communications for SPS. “That's the important part, because each neighborhood school knows thier community best and best how they celebrate those traditions.”
Spokane Schools’ view on religious-related activities and practices in schools align with Washington state law.
“We have 30,000 students, we speak 60 different languages inside of schools and we just want to make sure we are responsible for a safe learning environment,” Morrison said.
Central Valley Schools and Mead have similar policies.
In Coeur d’Alene, their policy says “the classroom is not the proper venue for promoting religious, political, or personal agendas.”
Bottom line, there are not very specific policies at any of the districts KREM 2 spoke with, but is has been, officials say, a non-issue.
In fact, Morrison said he could not recall a complaint about religious Christmas decorations in the last 14 years.