A petition has been launched calling for the resignation of school board members in a New Jersey county over their vote last week to remove holiday names from the school calendar and replace them with a generic “day off” designation.
The petition, created on the platform Change.org by a user identified as Thomas Tatem on Friday, seeks to build support among residents of Randolph Township in Morris County, New Jersey, for the immediate resignation of Superintendent Jennifer Fano and all of the Board of Education members.
While the petition does not explicitly reference the board’s Thursday decision to label holidays generically, the comments of some of its 2,300 signatories make the context clear.
“Now they’ve cancelled our holidays,” wrote Laura Assante of Randolph Township.
“How will students learn about the significance of these days if our board doesn’t even deem them important enough to keep on the calendar? Enough! It’s time now to cancel the BOE and get a new, honest administration in place who values our children and community.”
“I signed because this woke nonsense of erasing everything that has importance to different religions has to be stopped. Today, it is at Randolph. Where will it be tomorrow?” wrote Deborah Midkiff of Randolph Township.
“We are all capable of living along side neighbors of different religions knowing that they are celebrating days that are special to them just as we celebrate ours!”
Fano did not immediately respond with a request for comment on the petition, but the Randolph Township school board issued a statement on Sunday responding to the blowback.
“The Randolph Board of Education is aware of the large public outcry regarding our decision on June 10, 2021 to remove the names of the holidays from our school calendar,” the statement reads, insisting that the move does not mean that children will not be taught about holiday traditions.
“Our actions are somehow being misconstrued by some to mean that the Randolph School District is no longer recognizing these holidays, teaching about them to our students, and honoring the great veterans and the heroes for whom many of these holidays have been named. Nothing could be further from the truth,” the statement reads.
“These State, Federal, and other holidays have not been cancelled or taken away by this Board of Education as some are falsely claiming. Schools will still be closed on the days that we originally approved and our children will know why. They will still continue to receive instruction in schools about these important historical events and the people behind them,” the board added.
The main purpose of the school calendar is to inform parents about when schools are open or closed, the board said, adding that it is a school attendance calendar, “which is why we did not feel the need to list every State, Federal and Religious holiday on the one (1) page calendar that we adopt every year.”
“Our State and Federal governments approve public holidays and the Randolph School District is in no way minimizing or taking that away from anyone. Everyone is still encouraged to celebrate them in whatever way they deem appropriate,” the board said.
The board on Thursday unanimously voted to remove the names of all holidays from the school calendar, with the move prompted by an outcry over an earlier decision to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
“If we don’t have anything on the calendar, we don’t have to have anyone [with] hurt feelings or anything like that,” board member Dorene Roche told Fox 5.