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School walkout after controversy over canceled Santa trip

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Saturday, December 19, 2015, 7:51 AM

Parents at a California elementary school took their kids out of class after their annual trip to visit Santa Claus was canceled following a complaint from a Jewish mom.

About 30 students were taken to see St. Nick by their parents who were furious that the Sartorette Elementary School in San Jose canceled their trip.

The mom — named only as Talia — was accused of a “war on Christmas” by other parents angry that the annual trip was called off, reported NBC Bay Area.

Talia wrote a letter to the school because she did not want her daughter to go on the trip where the children write letters to Santa then deliver them and sit on his lap.

Parents wore Santa hats as they staged a walkout when the school canceled the annual visit to Santa Claus.NBC Bay Area

Parents wore Santa hats as they staged a walkout when the school canceled the annual visit to Santa Claus.

Talis has argued that the public school should respect and focus on all religions during the holiday season

“This is not a Jewish issue for me. It’s an inclusion issue,” Talia told NBC Bay Area.

“We can’t spend five days on just one culture. That’s fostering intolerance. When Christmas is given the same time, or less time, than American holidays, like Veterans Day, then kids don’t feel as American.”

In response, the school’s principal and superintendent decided to cancel the trip, prompting the walkout Friday.

Vanessa Howe, who organized the walkout, said she disagreed with the school’s decision.

“We had a person come in last week to my son’s class to speak about Hanukkah, and it would be like saying, ‘I don’t want you coming into the classroom because I don’t want my son around that, or learning about that,’” said Howe.

Vanessa Howe organized the walkout in protest of the school's decision.NBC Bay Area

Vanessa Howe organized the walkout in protest of the school’s decision.

Talia’s daughter’s class instead held their own holiday party, where parents from eight cultures described their customs.

School officials said no offense was intended and that they strive for inclusion for all beliefs.

“Our biggest commitment is inclusion. This isn’t about Santa,” said Superintendent Carrie Andrews.

“Santa is everywhere, he’s all around town. But during school, we have to represent and reflect our community to make sure we’re inclusive of all beliefs.” 

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lhanna@nydailynews.com

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