UPDATE: 8:47 a.m. | The staff at Lafayette Elementary School in West Seattle has decided to uphold its decision not to allow students to dress up for Halloween this year, according to a Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman.
The decision, however, was centered around the costumes being a distraction during an abbreviated day of school, not around the possibility of offending students from other cultures, or offending some students’ religious beliefs, district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel said in an email sent out this morning.
“Staff suggested that since Halloween falls this year on a half day of school, the school not allow costumes. It takes students a while to change into their costumes, and students are distracted, taking away from the already limited instructional time,” Wippel wrote.
“The principal said that staff also had a conversation about cultural issues that will also be discussed further, but the reason for the final decision about costumes this year was due to instructional time.”
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On Monday, a parent of a Lafayette student said that a school vice principal told him that costumes were being banned because observing Halloween might be offensive to some students.
Although Halloween has its roots as a religious observance, parent Ken Allen said it’s pretty clearly a secular holiday now, and that’s what he’s hearing from other parents.
Allen’s daughter plans to dress up as Hunger Games protagonist Katniss Everdeen, and will get in costume after school if the costume ban holds.
Wippel said there is no district-wide policy on costumes. The decision to allow costumes is up to individual schools.