PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – For 21 years, the South Kitsap School District in Washington state called the two-week vacation around Christmas (search) winter break.
But in May, with no fanfare, the school board decided that it was political correctness run amok and voted to go back to calling it Christmas break. That move was criticized by a few dozen people and this week, the board did an about-face.
Among those who blasted the board's original move to call it Christmas break was Sheldon Levine, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (search).
Levine said in a letter to school officials that they could be sued over the matter because he thought the action violated the state constitution, which says public schools "shall be forever free from sectarian control or influence."
"I just felt that it was not sensitive to the other people in the community that aren't Christian, and also for Christians that don't want the government involved in their religion," said Levine.
But critics of Levine said the board caved in to a vocal minority, allowing them to steal Christmas in August.
"If everybody calls it Christmas, and calls it Christmas break, why is it these people insist on this political correctness that we must call it winter break? It's being dishonest," said Jim Huff, who was the president of the South Kitsap School Board (search) when Christmas was put back on the calendar.
An attorney who specializes in such church-state issues said there's never been a court ruling on a case exactly like this, but said it's laughable to think that using the term "Christmas" break would somehow violate the Establishment Clause (search) of the Constitution.