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PA school district apologizes after telling bus drivers to remove Christmas decor for ‘inclusivity’

A Pennsylvania school district clarified it wasn’t trying to ban Christmas after it sent a memo to bus drivers telling them to “immediately” remove Christmas or other religious holiday decorations.

Wallingford-Swarthmore School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, sent a memo to transportation staff on Friday warning bus drivers to take down Christmas decorations and to stop wearing Christmas apparel because some parents had complained.

“As per Dr. Marseille, he has been receiving complaints from parents concerning District employees displaying ‘Christmas’ themed decorations and/or wearing clothing of the same nature,” the memo sent to employees in the transportation department read.

“If you have decorated your bus with anything specific to the Christmas Holiday or any other decorations relating to a specific religion, please remove them immediately. In addition, employees are instructed not to wear clothing related to Christmas or any other religious holiday,” the memo warned.

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Employees were also directed not to play Christmas music or music related to any other religion.

The note was first reported by Fox29 Philadelphia reporter Chris O’Connell on Friday. The memo clarified the instructions were not specific to just this department but were meant for all employees in the district.

Some bus drivers called the news “disappointing,” and retorted, “Bah humbug,” according to Fox29.

The note went viral on social media after being shared by several conservative accounts on X.

Later on Friday, the school district clarified there was a misunderstanding about the guidelines presented in the first memo.

“The memo sent earlier was the result of a conversation with myself and the Supervisor of Transportation in which my message was not clear,” Dr. Wagner Marseilles of Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools wrote in a second memo.

The school district leader confirmed that Christmas and holiday displays are permitted and do not violate school policy. The initial memo was sent in an attempt to address parent concerns about “religious neutrality” and “be inclusive of a diverse range of holiday traditions,” he said.

“To the extent that this reminder led to the communication that decorations and songs typically associated with the Christmas holiday were not permitted, this was not the intent, and efforts have been made internally to clarify this point to avoid any confusion moving forward. We understand the importance of recognizing and celebrating the diversity within our community. We are committed to continuously improving our communication and fostering an inclusive environment for all,” he wrote in the follow-up memo sent Friday.

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A letter was also sent home to parents on Monday apologizing for the “frustration and confusion” the initial memo caused.

Marseilles explained that some parents had raised concerns about the religious nature of some Christmas music and decorations on school buses. He apologized for putting bus drivers in an uncomfortable position.

“We are a district that prides itself on being culturally inclusive, and I felt it was important to ask our drivers to simply be mindful that not every child celebrates Christmas,” he explained. “However, I did not intend – in any way – for drivers to feel they needed to turn off the holiday music, take down all the decorations, or not wear any holiday clothing.”

The superintendent maintained schools had to balance “separation of church and state” concerns while “honoring and celebrating” the religious holidays of students, families and faculty.

“My hope is that our school district will always work to find ways to both celebrate holiday traditions – some of which are integral parts of many of our students’ lives – while also focusing on the importance of inclusivity,” he wrote.

The Wallingford-Swarthmore School District referred Fox News Digital to the Superintendent’s memo and letter to parents when reached for comment.

 

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