The principal of an elementary school will not be returning to her job from the leave she was placed on after banning holiday and Christmas decorations. Omaha, Nebraska’s Manchester Elementary school principal Jennifer Sinclair was put on administrative leave during December of 2018. Bary Habrock, superintendent of Elkhorn Public Schools told both staff and parents that Sinclair would not return in her previous position but would finish out the year in a different position involving curriculum.
In November of 2018 Manchester Elementary school principal Jennifer Sinclair sent a memo with guidelines for what she considered to be appropriate as assignments and decorations in the classroom during the holidays. Only generic items associated with winter were acceptable such as snow and sleds according to the memo. Other acceptable items were gifts to the students, gingerbread people, hot chocolate, polar bears and penguins. Christmas trees, candy canes, and even items there were red, and green were deemed as unacceptable for the school.
The reason appears to have been their religious affiliation. It seems Sinclair was attempting to avoid offending people who did not celebrate Christmas with the ban on themed decorations and ornamentation’s being placed in the school. She decided that the things she had included in the memo all had some sort of significance religiously and should not be permitted inside the school during the holiday season. Sinclair stated that she was very specific for everyone’s comfort even though she was not comfortable doing so in the memo itself.
The memo also prohibited clip art of Christmas items on worksheets, singing carols and playing Christmas music. The students were not permitted to make Christmas ornaments to give as gifts or watch Christmas movies or videos containing Christmas characters.
Candy canes of all colors were band. The reason was that J was a shape that had historically been used to stand for Jesus, and the red was the blood, and white was the resurrection. The school responded to a local news station by saying that the policies of the school system were not at all reflected by the memo about holiday decorations and symbols being used in the school. Sinclair was placed on administrative leave as a result of the memo and lost her position as principal at the elementary school.
The actual policy of the Elkhorn Public School District is that seasonal and secular symbols such as the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, Santa Claus and Christmas trees and could be on display if they were not disruptive to student’s ability to learn. Kara Perchal, a spokesperson for the district, stated that Sinclair was new and had not consulted with school administrators regarding the policies surrounding holiday themes of a religious nature. The district later clarified its policy for the holidays and given clear expectations to ensure that the schools are all on the same page to prevent this from happening in the future.