NJ school district removes names of all holidays from calendar

Randolph Township, N.J. — A New Jersey school district, facing backlash after a recent decision to rename Columbus Day, has decided to remove all holiday names from the school calendar.

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Randolph school directors voted unanimously on Thursday to keep specific holidays off the school calendar, including Thanksgiving, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Christmas. NJ.com reported. Holidays will now be designated as “Day Off” on the calendar, with a description of the reason behind it, the website reported.

The move comes after the board decided in May to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the school calendar, WNYW reported.

“If we don’t have anything on the calendar, we don’t have to have anyone be hurt feelings or anything like that,” board member Dorene Roche said before Thursday’s vote.

“I don’t think really it is the board’s responsibility to be naming these holidays,” board member Ronald Conti added. “Either take them off or just adopt whatever the federal and state governments are doing.”

More than 100 people attended Thursday’s meeting of the Randolph Board of Education to protest the Columbus Day change, NJ.com reported.

Several states and at least two communities in New Jersey -- Newark and Princeton -- had already changed the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the website reported.

Several parents accused the board of taking the vote in May without public input, and that their decision to remove Columbus Day from the school calendar was an insult to Italian Americans, NJ.com reported.

“I would like to think that the removal of Columbus Day was simply based on a lack of understanding,” one parent, Franco Piarulli, told board members. “Either that or Italian Americans are simply not part of your definition of inclusion.”

School board member Susan DeVito said that as more information is disclosed about Columbus, the more questions are raised about whether a holiday should be named for him.

“We need to use that knowledge to be on the right side of history,” DeVito told board members. “Just because his name has always been on the calendar doesn’t mean it always should be.”