Superintendent says Grinch principal who banned candy canes not returning to school

Photo: MichellePatrickPhotographyLLC (iStock)

UPDATE, January 17, 2019: The New York Post reports that the Elkhorn Public Schools district superintendent reportedly “told parents and school staff on Monday that Sinclair will not be returning to the school.” Although he said he supports Sinclair “as a leader and educator,” she will finish out the school year in a curriculum position. Hopefully there is nothing in that curriculum that’s holiday-related.

December 7, 2018: Are candy canes shaped to represent the “J” in Jesus, with the red representing the blood of Christ and the white his resurrection? That is actually what the principal of Manchester Elementary School in Nebraska wrote in a memo to teachers and staff, outlining her list of accepted and unacceptable holiday decorations and practices for classrooms. The long list banned Santa, reindeer, and yes, candy canes, but okayed non-secular penguins, gingerbread people, and snowflakes (ha). Principal Jennifer Sinclair, who is new to the district, explains in her memo that she is trying to be “inclusive” and “culturally sensitive to all students” by avoiding all items that could be considered “Christmas-related”—like items that are red and green. (A quick Google search reveals that candy canes were meant to resemble shepherds’ staffs, so they do fall under that category.)

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As KETV in Omaha reports, after parents protested and the Liberty Counsel, an organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, got involved, Sinclair was placed on leave. Liberty Counsel representative Mat Staver called her two-page document the “most outrageous memo we’ve ever seen on Christmas.” District spokesperson Kara Perchal stated, “The memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school.”

If this was a Hallmark holiday movie (it writes itself!), Sinclair would be portrayed by someone like Lacey Chabert or Candace Cameron Bure as a Scrooge/Grinch-like character who was emotionally wounded by a mean department-store Santa as a child, but will reconsider Christmas when she falls in love with the handsome toy-drive volunteer who visits her school. Or something. But as this is actually real life, Sinclair remains on leave, where she can continue to revise her own naughty and nice list, evaluating Frozen’s Olaf (approved) and Elf On The Shelf (nope).

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.