Sunday, December 13, 2015
Santa Claus is banned. The Pledge of Allegiance is no longer recited. “Harvest festival” has replaced Thanksgiving, and “winter celebrations” substitute for Christmas parties.
New principal Eujin Jaela Kim has given PS 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a politically correct scrub-down, to the dismay of teachers and parents.
“We definitely can’t say Christmas, nothing with Christmas on it, nothing with Santa,” PTA president Mimi Ferrer said administrators told her. “No angels. We can’t even have a star because it can represent a religious system, like the Star of David.”
Kim, 33, did not return a call or e-mail seeking comment.
A memo last month from assistant principal Jose Chaparro suggested a “harvest festival instead of Thanksgiving or a winter celebration instead of a Christmas party.” He urged staff to “be sensitive of the diversity of our families. Not all children celebrate the same holidays.”
Ninety-five percent of the 1,600 kids at PS 169 are Asian or Hispanic.
In a recent directive to all schools, the city Department of Education said it permits holiday symbols including Christmas trees, kinaras (candleholders for Kwanzaa), dreidels, Hanukkah menorahs and the Islamic star-and- crescent. Displays that “depict images of deities, religious figures or religious texts” are prohibited.
In a memo to staff this month, PS 169 business manager Johanna Bjorken added: “In case you are wondering about grey areas: Santa Claus is considered an ‘other religious figure.’ ”
But a DOE spokesman told The Post that Santa is allowed as a secular figure.
Santa was a part of the holidays at PS 169 for years. Joseph Iorio, a longtime assistant principal and the acting principal who preceded Kim, recalled state Assemblyman Felix Ortiz visiting the school dressed as Santa “many times.”
Iorio also said he tapped student leaders to lead the Pledge of Allegiance every Monday morning. When Kim arrived, the school-wide pledge ended.
A DOE spokesman said classrooms can recite the pledge “at the teacher’s discretion.” But PS 169 teachers said that Kim never told them they could do so.
Kim has other wacky priorities, school sources say. Soon after joining PS 169 in May 2014, her first time as a principal, she ordered the faculty to clear their classrooms of “clutter.” She moved hundreds of books and loads of supplies into the gym, where parents and other community members took what they wanted. The rest was tossed in the trash.
She also dumped boxes of newly purchased reading books in the basement because she preferred another curriculum, staffers said.
Kim bought seven 70-to-80-inch Sharp flat-screen smart TVs, which retail at about $3,000 each. After painting over and removing historic murals, she had the TVs mounted in the auditorium — three over the stage and two on each side.
“It was ridiculous,” Ferrer said. “They have never been used.”
Kim holds a lottery for students to get academic assistance after school or on Saturdays. She also started a “professional learning period” in which teachers observe each other in class, but it eliminates one period of core instruction a week for students, staffers said.
Kim recently told staff that Chancellor Carmen Fariña praised PS 169 at a town hall meeting.