Seattle Elementary School cancels Halloween parade, says it historically marginalized students of color

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A Seattle public school elementary school canceled its Halloween parade this month, saying the event has historically marginalized students of color who don’t celebrate.

“Specifically, these students have requested to be isolated on campus while the event is taking place,” the district said in an emailed statement. “In conjunction with SPS ‘steadfast commitment to students of color, especially African American men, staff are committed to supplanting the Pumpkin Parade with more inclusive and educational opportunities during the school day.”

Seattle school officials said they had not received any complaints about the Halloween parade from families.

The cancellation of the Pumpkin Parade at Benjamin Franklin Day Elementary School is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said. For at least five years, there were discussions about the parade. The school’s Race and Equity team resumed the discussion last month.

With staff input, the Race and Equity team recommended canceling the parade, Seattle school officials said in the statement. The Seattle Education Association said it was not involved in the decision.

“Halloween celebrations are becoming less and less common in schools both within the SPS and in surrounding districts,” the statement said. “There are many community and neighborhood events where students and families who wish can celebrate Halloween. “

Lisa Rivera-Smith, a Seattle school board member who represents the area where the school is located, said she was not aware of the problems the parade has caused for students of color. Although she has not received any messages or calls from voters about it, Rivera-Smith said she could see how some students might not have the resources or could not afford to buy costumes for them. ‘Halloween and how it “could be divisive”.

“It’s one thing to be reactive and another to be reactionary,” Rivera-Smith said. “Looks like the school is responsive. I appreciate that (Race and Equity Team) took charge and took action to do what they thought was best.

BF Day Elementary School, located in the Fremont area, has a predominantly white student population, nearly 63%, according to data for the 2020-21 school year. About 8% of students are Hispanic or Latino, about 6% are black or African American, and almost 7% are Asian. About 16% of students belong to two or more races, according to the data.

BF Day elementary school principal Stanley Jaskot and the school’s parent-teacher-student association could not be reached immediately for comment.

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