Elementary school principal put on leave after writing memo that banned candy canes and gingerbread people

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  • Jennifer Sinclair, the principal of Manchester Elementary School in Elkhorn, Nebraska, was put on leave this week after she circulated a letter banning certain Christmas-themed items in classrooms.
  • Among the items she banned at the school were candy canes since “the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus.”
  • Liberty Counsel, an organization that promotes Evangelical Christian values, got wind of the memo and complained.

An elementary school principal was put on leave this week after writing a memo banning certain items from the classroom for being overtly associated with Christmas and a specific religion.

Among the long list of items that teachers were banned from including in their classrooms during the holiday season were candy canes, because “historically the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection,” Principal Jennifer Sinclair wrote in the memo.

Sinclair also said that all red and green decorations were “not acceptable” since they are traditional Christmas colors, which may lead non-Christian students to feel excluded, according to the memo.Manchester Elementary School in Elkhorn, Nebraska is seen above. The principal of the school has been placed on leave after banning candy canes, among other items, from the school during the holiday season.

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Manchester Elementary School in Elkhorn, Nebraska is seen above. The principal of the school has been placed on leave after banning candy canes, among other items, from the school during the holiday season.
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Soon parents started complaining and Liberty Counsel, an organization that promotes Evangelical Christian values, demanding that the school district drop the ban.

“I feel like it was very deliberate and intentional about eliminating just Christmas and putting an attack on what Christmas is and what it stands for,” parent Jenni Myers told WOWT.

On Thursday, Sinclair was put on administrative leave while the school district looks into the issue.

Read more: Idaho man wins $75,000 ‘war on Christmas’ lawsuit against homeowners association that didn’t want him to put on his annual extravaganza

The district released this statement: “Elkhorn Public Schools District administration promptly addressed the issue at Manchester Elementary School regarding the memo that was sent by the principal to Manchester elementary staff. The memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school. The District has since clarified expectations and provided further direction to staff in alignment with District policy. This issue was limited to Manchester Elementary School and did not arise at any other schools within the District.”

Spokesman Kara Perchal said that they couldn’t comment further on Sinclair’s employment, however she pointed out that Sinclair was a new principal and did not consult with administrators before sending the message out, according to KETV.

According to the district’s website, the only things that are banned during the holiday season are Christmas trees and Santa Claus.

Here’s the list of what Sinclair considered acceptable and not acceptable in the classroom during the holidays:

Acceptable practices:

  • Gifts to students
  • Students making gifts for a loved one
  • Snowmen, snow women, snow people, snowflakes
  • Gingerbread people
  • Holidays Around the World – purposeful presentation of information to teach about different cultures
  • Sledding
  • Hot chocolate
  • Polar Bears
  • Penguins
  • Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats
  • Yetis
  • Olaf – Frozen

Not acceptable:

  • Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets
  • Christmas trees in classrooms
  • Elf on the Self – that’s Christmas-related
  • Singing Christmas Carols
  • Playing Christmas music
  • Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book – that’s Christmas-related
  • Making a Christmas ornament as a gift – That assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of, “Well they can just hang it somewhere else.”
  • Candy Cane – that’s Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a “J” for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.
  • Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
  • Reindeer
  • Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies