School boards across America have debated whether to call a holiday break period “Winter Break” versus “Christmas Break”. But a school district in Petoskey, Michigan claims that even though Christmas is a national holiday and they legally can change the name of the break they won’t simply because the school board treasurer wrote an email with religious undertones in favor of the move.
“Upon reviewing the legality of this change in light of Mr. Waldvogel’s email of August 10th, 2009 it is the opinion of this Board, along with legal counsel, that the School District would not be successful in court if challenged. The ability or right to change the wording is not at issue. It is well settled that schools have the right to refer to the break as Christmas. Christmas is a federal holiday and the vacation period can be named as such as has been traditionally accepted. However, it is also well established that government actions (including Public School Boards) must have a secular purpose for their actions (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)). The change to “Christmas Break” cannot be initiated or driven based on religious agenda.
This has got to be the single most creative cop out in the history of school boards fighting Christmas. Since when does a school board treasurer dictate board policy?