A New Jersey public school has reversed its decision to remove the names of all holidays from the district calendar following backlash from hundreds of community members, numerous sources reported.
The Randolph Board of Education voted 8-1 Monday to return to its school calendar that showed all New Jersey state and federal holidays, including Columbus Day, ABC 7 reported. In May, the board had voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenious Peoples’ Day, a decision that angered Italian Americans.
The overwhelming majority of speakers accused the board of bringing what they called “woke” and “cancel culture” actions into their school system. https://t.co/7P157JvDhZ
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 22, 2021
The mid-June decision to rename holidays as “days off” in school calendars was made to be more “inclusive and equitable,” school officials previously said. (RELATED: School Board Removes All Holiday Names From Calendar To Be More ‘Inclusive And Equitable’)
Holidays including Thanksgiving, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Christmas would have been taken off the school calendar under the new rule.
The school board faced intense criticism from community members for nearly four hours during the public session, which brought in roughly 400 people, according to USA Today. Some people accused the board of being influenced by “woke” beliefs and “cancel culture.” Many in the audience called on the school board to resign, and police were present to ensure everyone stayed calm.
“In your attempt to be woke, you’ve waken up the entire community of Randolph,” Ralph Contini, part of Unico National, the U.S.’s largest Italian American service organization, said, according to USA Today. “We draw the line in the sand. You have overreached. Enough is enough of this anti-Columbus movement.”
State Sen. Anthony Bucco, who represents Randolph, said eliminating Columbus Day “was bad enough,” but the board’s decision to go even further allowed their “pursuit of diversity to spiral into division,” USA Today reported.
The people stood up and the Randolph school board was forced to listen. I was glad to work with the community to right this wrong. https://t.co/IlENdjZtVH
— Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (@tonybucco) June 22, 2021
Few people spoke in favor of the school’s decision to remove the holidays, according to USA Today.
The school’s decision to remove the holiday names became national news within hours of the vote.
“I woke up and found out that my town had turned into a nationwide embarrassment,” John Sharples, a Randolph resident, said, according to USA Today.
Susan DeVito was the only board member to vote against the measure to return the holiday names to the school’s calendar and blamed the media for its poor reporting on the decision, according to USA Today.
“Let’s call a spade a spade,” DeVito said. “If this was truly about Italian heritage with no other issues tied in, we would have not have been called Marxists, communists, racists.”
The school board issued a statement saying their decision was mischaracterized, according to ABC.
“These state, federal and other holidays have not been cancelled or taken away by this board of education as some are falsely claiming,” the statement said.
“Schools will still be closed on the days that we originally approved and our children will know why. Everyone should remember that the primary purpose of the school calendar is to inform parents when schools will be open and when schools will be closed.”
A petition was launched following the school board’s decision to remove holiday names from the school calendar, calling on the Randolph Board of Education and the school’s superintendent, Jennifer Fano, to resign.