Brooklyn Principal Bans Dress-Up by Holding Picture Day on Halloween

By Meredith Hoffman on October 31, 2013 1:25pm | Updated on October 31, 2013 3:50pm

 Bianca Tonetti brought a costume for her son Damien Ross, 6, to change into as soon as he got out of school at P.S. 31. "It would be nice if they could express themselves," she said of the anti-costume rule.
Bianca Tonetti brought a costume for her son Damien Ross, 6, to change into as soon as he got out of school at P.S. 31. "It would be nice if they could express themselves," she said of the anti-costume rule.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

GREENPOINT — Ghost and jack-o'-lantern cutouts may dangle on the fence, but children beware — A Greenpoint elementary school is no place for spooking on Halloween.

P.S. 31 has scheduled school picture day on the holiday for years — and the principal insists on the school's website that kids "dress appropriately." That means no costumes.

"It would be nice if they could express themselves," said P.S. 31 mother Bianca Tonetti who brought her son's Michael Jackson costume when she picked him up from school so he could change clothes right away. "It surprised me, I didn't understand why they scheduled picture day today. This is his favorite holiday."

But this was not the first year for the scheduling conflict — picture day is routinely held on the holiday, parents said.

"This principal doesn't play," a former P.S. 31 mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said of the Meserole Avenue school. "She literally doesn't believe in play...It's unlike any other school in Greenpoint. She runs a tight ship."

The picture day has fallen on Halloween for at least seven years, the parent said, prompting kids to race home after school to change.

Not all parents were disturbed by the rule, however, especialy since P.S. 31 ranks among the top public elementary schools in the city.

"It's the school law," said mother Lipi Aktar, whose 6-year-old daughter Rafihe prepared to change into her princess outfit as she left the campus.

And one dad said he knew the school was strict and "barely took [the kids] outside to play" but noted that the education was top-notch so said he opted for the elementary's model for his bright daughter.

The principal, Mary Scarlato, did not immediately return calls and emails requesting comment, and the Department of Education declined to comment on the policy.

But an employee at the school said students had gotten the chance to dress up one day last week in exchange for Halloween. That employee also asked to remain anonymous.

 P.S. 31 has Halloween decorations outside but children are discouraged from coming in costume.
P.S. 31 has Halloween decorations outside but children are discouraged from coming in costume.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

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