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Should Santa Claus be allowed in schools?

(Photo: Kenneth Miraski / CC BY 2.0 via MGN Online)

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- A memo sent to Hillsboro School District staff asked them to refrain from using religious-themed decorations during the holidays, including images like Santa Claus.

The school district released the memo to KATU Tuesday, the key part reads:

You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus.

"It really went out as a notification to staff, not even parents, just to make sure they are being sensitive and thoughtful as they enter the holiday season," said Beth Graser, communications director for Hillsboro School District.

Some parents say a rule like this one is bogus.

"I'm from that generation where we believe in Santa, and my kids believe in Santa, and they should be able to celebrate it," said one parent.

"If you're going to put a giant cross on the window that's one thing, but I think Santa Claus is more folklore and American history than a religious symbol at this point," said Jason Ramirez.

In downtown Hillsboro, certain stores are decorated for Christmas with images of Santa hang in the windows.

"It's just part of the traditional holiday spirit I guess, we've always embraced it," said Jeff Nelson, owner of Le Stuff Antique Mall.

Graser says she understands the frustration some people may have with regards to holiday decorations, but says, "It's not meant to be that at all. Again, it's just really a reminder to get people to be sensitive."

School districts around Portland have similar ways of handling holiday decorations. Portland Public Schools, Beaverton School District, North Clackamas School District, and Oregon City School District all responded to requests from KATU about religious-themed holiday decorations, they all have similar guidelines.

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