New Jersey School Board Restores Christmas Display After Previous Ban

The Board of Education here restored today a Christmas display of paintings of a religious nature which it had ordered removed from the doors of Memorial High School earlier this week on the complaint of a parent. Dr. Edward C. Fandt, superintendent of schools, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Board reversed its removal order after determining that the display “did not violate any legal statues or local regulations” concerning religious observances in public schools. Dr. Fandt said that state educational authorities who were consulted ruled that the matter was one for decision by the local Board of Education.

Mrs. Shirley Friedman, an East Paterson housewife, objected to the display at a Board of Education meeting Monday night. She complained that the paintings, which depict the Madonna and Child and the Visit of the Magi, “create a parochial impression on our entrance,” and suggested that they “be given a showcase in our art department.” The school doors on which the paintings were mounted were partially blacked out to give the impression of stained glass on French Gothic arches, as in many cathedral windows. Vito A, Farese, principal of the school, had the paintings removed on orders of the Board of Education.

Their removal, however, drew “vehement complaints” from parents and students, according to Dr. Fandt. The school superintendent said that, as far as he knows, Mrs. Friedman was the only person to register an objection to the display. He said he had no idea of the number of non-Christian children attending Memorial High.

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