Boy in a Santa suit asked to quit dance
By Patrick Cronin
HAMPTON - A parent of a Hampton Academy Junior High School student says the principal of the school told his son to leave the school’s holiday dance on Friday night because the boy was dressed in a Santa Claus costume, which was politically incorrect.
Michael Lafond said his son, Bryan, went to the dance dressed as Santa because it was a holiday party.
“He asked if he could dress like Santa and we said yes,” said Lafond. “We went to Brooks and purchased the outfit and everything.”
Lafond said his wife dropped off Bryan at the school.
“I went to the dance with my friend,” said Bryan Lafond, who is in seventh grade. “He had an elf hat on and we thought it was pretty cool. Everyone loved the suit, but when I went by the principal, he asked why I was dressed like that.”
Principal Fred Muscara said he told the boy he couldn’t get into the dance because he was wearing the costume.
“It was a holiday party,” said Muscara. “It was not a Christmas party. There is a separation of church and state. We have a lot of students that go to Hampton Academy Junior High that have different religions. We have to be sensitive to that.”
Bryan said while Muscara didn’t say he had to leave, he told Bryan if he wanted to go the dance he would have to change out of the suit and put on proper attire for the dance.
Having nothing to change into, Bryan left the dance to try and find his mother.
“My wife was leaving the parking lot when she saw Bryan running out of the building,” said Lafond. “He told her that the principal said it was politically incorrect to wear the Santa outfit.”
“I saw him running out of the building crying,” said Leslie Lafond, Bryan’s mother.
Lafond said while he disagrees with their reasoning he could almost understand it.
What he couldn’t understand was why his son was able to leave the dance.
“One of reasons why we are so angry is that the school has a policy that says once you go to the dance you can’t leave until it’s over,” said Lafond. “You can’t leave school grounds unless they call a parent. If my wife wasn’t there, my son would have been out roaming the streets.”
Bryan’s mother picked up her son and drove him home to change.
Lafond said his wife had to persuade Bryan to go back to the dance.
“He was so embarrassed,” said Lafond. “It wasn’t like he was trying to pull a prank. He is just a good-natured kid getting into the holiday spirit who just happened to walk right by Scrooge.”
Muscara said he was unaware that Bryan left the dance.
“I asked if he had something he could change into and he said he did,” said Muscara.
Lafond said when his wife drove Bryan back to the dance, she complained to school officials.
She said she also complained to several School Board members and Muscara.
On Monday, Bryan’s parents went before the School Board to voice their concerns.
“I don’t want this to happen again,” said Leslie. “It is unacceptable. When Bryan returned to the school, the principal said, ‘What are you doing, trying to get me fired.’ That is not a proper comment to make to a student.”
Superintendent James Gaylord told the School Board it would discuss the matter in non-public session because it involved a student and personnel.
When contacted at her house Monday afternoon, Hampton School Board Chairman Nancy Serpis said she was concerned with what she heard.
“We need to look at the whole situation,” said Serpis.
Lafond said political correctness is getting out of control.
“I don’t get it,” said Lafond, citing a PTA breakfast with Santa at the school a couple of weeks ago.
“What’s next? Are they going to get rid of Halloween because of paganism?” he asked.
“The last time I checked, Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Christ and not Santa Claus,” Leslie said. “I want them to make an apology to my son. My son was humiliated.”