Leatrice Ann Eng, a Rockland County teacher, is apologizing to parents for telling her second-grade class that Santa Claus does not exist, and that parents buy the presents.
The 58-year-old educator teaches at George W. Miller Elementary School in Nanuet, New York, and routinely teaches a number of subjects to her young students. During one such lesson on geography, the subject of the North Pole was brought up, and students responded by mentioning the icy land as Santa’s home. Eng quickly snapped that Santa did not exist, and that parents, according to NBC News, bought Christmas gifts.
This caused a veritable firestorm of controversy, as many parents believed their 7-year-olds and 8-year-olds were still young enough to believe in the magical St. Nicholas, his 12 reindeer, and the like.
Sean Flanagan, the father of a third-grader, told the New York Post, “If that happened to my daughter in her second-grade class . . . I’d be very upset.”
Other parents expressed similar sentiments after finding out the news from their confused children.
This prompted the school administration to take action, even if only to quell the rising public discontent with the blunt instructor.
District Superintendent Mark McNeill oversees George W. Miller Elementary in addition to other schools, and released a clipped response to the controversial statement: “This matter is being addressed internally.”
To avoid further negative scrutiny, Eng personally called all the parents of the children in the second grade class and made an apology for her actions. It is unknown if her actions will sway the tide of dissatisfaction the community felt about the teacher’s destruction of childhood imagination, but at least one parent feels Eng has done enough.
Irene Hoffman, the mother of three youngsters who attend the school, thinks the teacher was “wrong,” but she also feels the sensationalism of the story is a bit misplaced.
Hoffman told the Post, "It’s sad… the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. I think we should focus on our children's education, and just move on."