A New Hampshire military veteran says the local school superintendent "has just gone too far" with political correctness after the educator demanded the word "Christmas" be removed from flyers for an annual tree lighting.
John Fletcher, an Air Force veteran and commander of the local American Legion, told FOX 25 that he spreads the word about the event by posting notices in local schools.
Every year, the community gathers in the center of town, where organizers light a Christmas tree. Fletcher and his wife dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and hand out gifts, hot chocolate and donuts to kids during the celebration.
Although the annual tree lighting isn't on school property, Fletcher said he received a letter from Marlborough School District Superintendent Robert Malay, who told him he had to make changes to the flyers advertising the event if he wanted to post them in local schools.
“Even though it’s not a school function – which it says right on the flyer – I was informed that unless we took the word ‘Christmas’ out we couldn’t put them up in the school,” Fletcher told the Education Action Group Foundation. “My wife spent two days with white out, erasing the word ‘Christmas.’"
In a letter to local newspaper Sentinel Source, Fletcher recounted Malay's demand and said the U.S. is built on values like freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
“It seems to me that our new superintendent, Rob Malay, doesn’t understand this," Fletcher wrote. "I can’t believe the [school] board approved this.
"I respect all rights; always have. But, do not take away our rights because you may offend someone else.”
Malay reportedly did not respond to requests for comment. The district website makes no mention of the controversy.
Fletcher said he accommodated Malay because he wanted school kids in town to know about the event, which is set to take place on Dec. 6. He added that he's received support from several people in the community and isn't done pushing back against the school district.
“I’m tired of the political correctness," Fletcher said. "It’s gotten out of hand.”