CLIFTON PARK — At least one school in the Shenendehowa Central School District has banned clown costumes for Halloween.
Gowana Middle School, one of three district middle schools, sent a letter to parents explaining that clown costumes are not allowed on school property.
“Many of the Halloween costumes are violent or inappropriate for school for a variety of different reasons,” district spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani said. “Last year, we had a clown-based threat to the district. That is one of the reasons why clown costumes were specifically mentioned along with weapons and revealing undergarments.”
DeFeciani added that there is no blanket policy about what students can and cannot wear during Halloween. Instead, each school building is left to determine its Halloween dress code.
“It’s really a building-by-building decision,” she said.
But many of the schools, DeFeciani said, are moving away from costumes in general. Makeup, face paint, silly string, hair spray, fake weapons and revealing clothing are banned at all times.
The costumes can lead to significant distractions in schools, DeFeciani added, and many buildings instead host a separate costume or Halloween parade. Gowana will hold its annual Halloween Dance on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.
“We’re just moving away in general from kids dressing up for Halloween,” she said. “Most of our buildings have moved in that direction.”
For many, clowns are no longer a matter to joke about. Last year, multiple reports of suspicious people lurking around town wearing clown costumes were made by residents of Clifton Park and Halfmoon. One of the clowns was reportedly seen in a Clifton Park apartment complex, and the other was seen at an apartment complex in Halfmoon.
One parent, whose son is a fourth-grader at Skano, said some schools in the district don’t just ban certain costumes. Kimberly, who didn’t want her last name published, said Skano doesn’t let students dress up for Halloween at all, though the school hosted a Halloween celebration Friday. Students at Skano’s sister school, Tesago, which it is connected physically to Skano, are able to dress up, however.
Seeing other students on buses in costumes, Kimberly said, can cause hard feelings for Skano students.
“I do think there should be some standards across the board,” she said, adding that the logic behind the clown costume ban made sense last year, in the wake of a nationwide spate of creepy clown incidents. But she doesn’t think the ban makes sense this year.