New Jersey School Board Reverses Decision to Remove Holiday Names from Academic Calendar
"The Randolph Board of Education is grateful to the community for its feedback regarding designating school holidays and days off," the group told PEOPLE
A New Jersey school board has reversed a decision to remove holiday names from its academic calendar amid outcry from the local community.
Earlier this week, the Randolph Board of Education voted 8-1 to overturn a previous decision that would replace the names of yearly holidays with the term "day off" instead, according to a Tuesday report from Fox News.
"The Randolph Board of Education is grateful to the community for its feedback regarding designating school holidays and days off," the group told PEOPLE in a statement. "After a reconsideration, the school calendar returns to its prior form, adding ALL state and federal holidays."
"The very essence of education is to learn, to grow and to apply lessons learned. The last few weeks have showcased a concerned community, an interested public and a responsive Board of Education that acknowledged a decision made without proper consideration," they continued. "In the future, a review committee will seek community input on any proposed calendar changes."
"Randolph has a reputation for academic integrity, and a strong sense of community," the statement said. "It is the sincere hope of the School Board that those values are once again on display and any past negativity will dissipate as we focus on our students and their educational needs."
Criticism against the school board first began in May when members voted to refer to Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, according to the Associated Press. After receiving complaints from Italian Americans, the board then voted to remove the names of holidays from the calendar altogether.
Voicing opposition to this action, some parents of students even called for the resignation of the board members, in a petition that received over 4,000 signatures.
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The Randolph school district then issued a statement on the prior decision, saying the situation had been "misconstrued," as they implored individuals to not point fingers at those not involved in the decision-making process.
"The buck stops here with those of us seated in front of you and we own it," school board president Tammy MacKay said, per the AP. "Neither the superintendent nor any other administrator, principal, teacher or other district employee had anything to do with those votes or decisions. To cast blame on any of them for what this board did is quite simply wrong."
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In a statement, board member Ronald Conti said, per NBC 4, that the ordeal "sets an uncomfortable precedent that with enough threats, harassment, and intimidation, a select group — not necessarily Randolph voters — can force the district to its will."
Andre Dimino, the Executive Board Member of the Italian American One Voice Coalition, argued, however, that removing the holiday language in lieu of labeling them as generic "days off" was wrong.
"Because what that tells the students is that it's just a day off. It doesn't tell them what the background is," Dimino told NBC 4.
The school board argued, however, that students would still be taught about the holidays in school.
"[The students] will still continue to receive instruction in schools about these important historical events and the people behind them," the district said in a statement, per the outlet. "Everyone should remember that the primary purpose of the school calendar is to inform the parents when schools will be opened and when schools will be closed."