The Fort Worth school district says there is a time and a place for Christmas cheer -- and it's not during class time.
Fort Worth Independent School District officials said that the district cannot endorse or sponsor any religious activity or doctrine.
According to district spokesperson Clint Bond the reasons for that are twofold: Classroom time should be reserved for learning and the district doesn't want to alienate non-Christian students.
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"We have students and parents who don't see Santa Claus as the icon for this time of year, so we have to be concerned about what their feelings are," Bond said. Also, "we have precious little time with our children to begin with and to get across a tremendous amount of educational information -- that's our primary job."
What that means is that students will not be allowed to exchange gifts or distribute personal holiday messages during class this year. But the district isn't stopping the spread of Christmas cheer outside of instructional hours. Students can still exchange gifts before and after school, and classroom parties are allowed if they are for "instructional purposes."
"We’re not against Santa Claus. We invite Santa Claus into all of our schools provided the principal can work that out before school starts, after school. The message that has unfortunately gotten out there, that we are against Santa Claus or holiday parties, is not really accurate," Bond said. "The reality is Fort Worth ISD is not against Santa Claus. We’re not against the Easter Bunny, we’re not against the Great Pumpkin or any holiday icon. In fact, I’m wearing a Santa Claus tie at the moment."
But some parents are still upset and think the district is out line.
"I do think it's ridiculous. I do," parent Brandon Brewer said. "We're talking about Santa Claus. I think we've reached the 'politically correct' is too 'PC.'"
In order to take a stand, he and a few other parents have started wearing Santa hats to the schools to protest the new policy.
"I'm getting high-fives from parents and teachers alike," Brewer said. "There's kind of the knowing nod between the Santa-hat wearers."
Brewer said he's pushing for the school district to lift the new rules.
"My Christmas wish would be, we go back to the way things have been for the past 50 years," he said. "Keep the policy in place. Allow Santa back into the school.”
Despite the claim made by some parents, the district reaffirms that they aren't the Grinch and that they simply want to reserve class time for learning and not religious observances.
"Santa Claus is welcome to visit our schools. He can be in the lobby. He can be in the cafeteria. He can be in the auditorium. He can be in the school, outside the school, around the school. But he cannot visit the classroom while the teacher is teaching," said Interim Superintendent Walter Dansby, in a news release on Friday.