Singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" might be okay in Maplewood-South Orange schools. But "Silent Night" and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" are still out.
A board of education policy that prohibits celebratory religious music in district schools was upheld today by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
The three-judge panel said there was "no constitutional violation" in the policy because other constitutional principles require public schools to remain strictly secular environments.
"Those of us who were educated in the public schools remember holiday celebrations replete with Christmas carols, and possibly even Chanukah songs, to which no objections had been raised. Since then, the governing principles have been examined and defined with more particularity," Judge Dolores Korman Sloviter wrote for the court.
The judges said public school administrations can discern which songs are most appropriate according to those constitutional guidelines because schools already are charged with the responsibility of creating a secular "inclusive environment" for students every day.