There will be no reprieve, no candy hearts, for children hoping their principal might drop plans to cancel Valentine’s Day festivities at Bruce Vento Elementary in St. Paul.
But if Principal Scott Masini knows his school community as well as his high-profile supporters maintained at a school board meeting Tuesday night, the disappointment will not be widespread.
District leaders have been besieged with critical e-mails in the past two weeks after a letter that Masini planned to send to families announcing an end to celebrations of “dominant holidays” like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas was leaked and posted on a Facebook page.
Masini wrote that his East Side school, which is largely nonwhite, needed to “find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population.”
The letter never went out. But Sharon Freeman, a district assistant superintendent, confirmed that the school is, indeed, canceling Valentine’s Day activities.
Masini’s letter echoed a long-standing school board policy that states: “Schools shall discourage programs and festivities arranged to celebrate … special days, and shall strive to eliminate them, except where such observances are required by law.”
Michelle Walker, the district’s chief executive, said Tuesday night that principals can continue with any Valentine’s Day activities that have academic tie-ins — such as having kindergartners cut out hearts as a “how to” exercise.