The Grinch Who Stole Halloween?

ByABC News via via logo

Oct. 30, 2005— -- An elementary school in Newton, Mass., has put the brakes on Halloween this year.

Principal David Castelline has forbidden the teachers, staff and students from wearing costumes, and also has canceled Halloween arts and crafts activities.

In a letter to students and parents, Castelline explained that the Halloween celebration offended religious beliefs of some students. Instead, the school will hold a "celebration of fall" this Friday.

"I felt the goal was really important to make it a respectful and open and welcoming place for all members of our community," Castelline told The Boston Globe. "When I heard that kids won't come to school because of what we're doing, I have a problem with that."

Last Halloween, Castelline was perhaps the school's most enthusiastic participant. He even grew a beard so he could more accurately portray Red Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon.

In his effort to protect some students this year, Castelline has alienated others. And some parents are planning to stage a protest outside the school on Monday.

"I think, by and large, most of the parents are frustrated with the quickness of this decision and would like a lengthier debate," said Tracy Clark, vice president of the city's Parent Teacher Organization, whose 10-year-old son Sam attends the school.

Although she disagrees with Castelline's decision to ban costumes and arts activities, Clark said the principal is a very thoughtful man. Yet, she sees danger in what she believes is extreme political correctness.

"I am concerned," Clark said "We have a wonderfully diverse community. It's a wonderful learning experience for my son to be part of the real world."

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