Christmas display causes controversy at local elementary school - News, Weather & Sports

Christmas display causes controversy at local elementary school

By Eric Flack

(LOUISVILLE) -- A Louisville elementary school became the latest battleground in the controversy over Christmas decorations after a teacher was asked to take down a Christmas tree on the bulletin board outside her classroom because another teacher was offended by it. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack has more.

Brandeis Elementary School in West Louisville is all about multi-culturalism. Principal Shervita West-Jordan says she strives to embrace diversity, and respect all beliefs.

So when a Jewish teacher said she was offended by a paper Christmas tree put up outside another teacher's classroom, Principal Jordan asked that it be changed. She, and the teacher who complained, were bothered by the fact that the tree was made up of hands which represented all the students in the class.

Over the tree was a caption that read: "Santa's Helpers."

"Of course, the children in her class room that were Indian and Muslim probably did not believe in Santa Claus," Jordan explained.

They "were not 'Santa's Helpers.'"

Jordan said the tree could stay, but the wording had to go. Her advice: "Make it say 'Holiday Helpers' or Winter Helpers,'" Jordan said, "to make it a little more inclusive."

Instead, the teacher took the whole display down and replaced it with a note that read: "The Grinch has stolen the bulletin board."

Schools aren't the only place where Christmas trees are coming down. All 9 trees at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were removed over the weekend after a Rabbi threatened a lawsuit if a menorah didn't go up, too. Airport officials decided it would just be easier to take down  the trees.

At the Louisville Airport, holiday specific decorations are banned unless they are hidden back in an office or on the property of a vendor.

Traveler Sally Sullivan says the policy goes too far. "Nothing is politically correct anymore. It seems like you can't do anything without offending someone else."

After the Christmas tree at Brandeis came down, Principal Jordan realized she had a new problem.

"If we don't include Christmas, we are not truly being multi-cultural."

So she issued an apology to the teacher and asked that the kids' tree be put back up. She even approved the use of the words: "Santa's Helpers," although the teacher went with "Happy Holidays" instead.

"We want to teach children that's it's OK for you to believe what you believe and for me to believe what I believe," Jordan said. "And how about let's learn from each other."

Principal Jordan has not spoken with the Jewish teacher who made the initial complaint since the tree went back up, but she hopes time will heal all wounds. She says the controversy has opened up a dialogue at Brandies and she thinks everyone understands each other a little better because of it.

Online Reporter: Eric Flack

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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