A Seattle Public Schools elementary school canceled its Halloween parade this month, saying the event has historically marginalized students of color who don’t celebrate the holiday.
SPS officials said they have not received any complaints about the costumed parade from families at B.F. Day Elementary School in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. It’s unclear which specific students were involved, why they did not want to participate, or details of the issues that occurred that lead to the cancellation of the parade.
School district officials and Principal Stanley Jaskot declined to answer questions about the cancellation. The district, in an emailed statement, said some students had “requested to be isolated on campus while the event took place.”
The statement cited the district’s “unwavering commitment to students of color” in announcing it was “committed to supplanting the Pumpkin Parade with more inclusive and educational opportunities during the school day.”
The cancellation is not tied to the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said. For at least five years, there has been discussion about the parade, and the school’s Race and Equity Team took on the issue again last month.
With staff input, the Race and Equity Team made the recommendation to cancel the parade, SPS officials said in the statement. The Seattle Education Association said it was not involved in the decision.
“Holding Halloween celebrations are becoming less common in schools both within SPS and in surrounding districts,” the statement said. “There are numerous community and neighborhood events where students and families who wish to can celebrate Halloween.”
Lisa Rivera-Smith, the Seattle School Board member who represents the area the school is in, said she wasn’t aware of the issues the parade has caused for students of color. Although she has not received any messages or calls from constituents about it, Rivera-Smith said she could see how some students might not have the resources or can’t afford to buy Halloween costumes and how that “could be divisive.”
“It’s one thing to be responsive and another thing to be reactionary,” Rivera-Smith said. “It sounds like the school is being responsive. I appreciate the [Race and Equity Team] took it on and took steps to do what they thought was best.”
B.F. Day Elementary School has a majority white student population, nearly 63%, according to data from the 2020-21 school year. About 8% of students are Hispanic or Latino, about 6% are Black or African American, and nearly 7% are Asian. About 16% of students are two or more races, the data shows.
The elementary school’s Parent Teacher Student Association could not immediately be reached for comment.