Saugus Santa tradition almost cut due to school policy
SAUGUS, Mass. -- Santa’s plans in Saugus took a downward spiral when the superintendent of schools tried to cancel a nearly 50-year tradition.
“We were being told that the Santa Claus was not to go to any of the Saugus public schools,” said Mark Gannon of the Saugus Fire Department.
Saugus firefighters donate their own money, union dues, and time to help Santa deliver coloring books to more than 500 preschoolers and kindergarteners via a "red sleigh."
“As soon as Santa walks into a room, the teachers love it too ‘cause the kids are dead silent. They are just - mouths open, looking at him, they can’t believe it. They’re quiet, they do everything they’re told. Nobody wants to mess with Santa,” said Gannon.
But Superintendent Richard Langlois did, and he said he was just following rules.
“It's the school committee policy that I upheld and carried out. It was also based on statute federal and state…I wasn't there 49-years-ago. I'm only recent and I found out about it last year and I brought it to the attention of people and my principals and they informed them and it might not have been a popular thing but it is school committee policy,” said Langlois.
But a school committee member said they were never consulted, and in fact, they convinced the superintendent to reverse the order, for at least this year.
“Santa Claus is a great thing for them, elementary school age. And fire trucks are a great thing for them. And I applaud our Saugus fire department and the people that volunteer to go do this,” said Arthur Grabowski, Saugus school committee member.
The school committee will be taking up the issue next month at their meeting to see if they're breaking any laws, and how the public feels about the tradition moving forward.
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