A New Jersey school board reversed a controversial plan to erase holiday names from an official school calendar Monday night after ferocious parental outcry.
Roughly 40 speakers ripped the purge at a contentious meeting of the Randolph Board of Education, before the body voted 8-1 to reinstate the names.
The same board voted earlier this month to replace all holiday names on the district’s academic calendar with the phrase “day off,” after parents complained about a plan to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
Backlash to the decision gathered steam after parent Tom Tatem launched a petition blasting the board for unilaterally junking holiday names without sufficient parent input.
“It’s not about being the loudest to get your way, it’s really about learning that this needs to be a transparent and accountable and collaborative process with the town that you live in,” Jacobi told Fox News after the Monday showdown. “And that’s one of the biggest messages we were giving the board last night, consistently across 40 different speakers. And that’s what they really need to come and think about.”
Tatem was particularly concerned that the voided holiday names included both Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
His petition, which has drawn nearly 5,000 signatures, said the board “disgraced our community.”
“They represent everything that is wrong in education today and are completely incompetent in every aspect of their role,” the petition stated, adding that Superintendent Jen Fano and all board members should resign.
Tensions between district parents and board members spiraled in recent weeks, with one official characterizing critics as “right wing fanatics” for opposing the linguistic switch.
A district spokesman had earlier defended the changes as “inclusive and equitable.”
Tatem said the outcry had clearly forced the sudden policy change Monday.
“They got the message,” he said. “They reversed course on their decision, which is very much appreciated.”