Lancaster County district faces criticism over Christmas play cancellation

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 22, 2016 1:11 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Phil Sears

Students from Community Christian School in Tallahassee sing Christmas carols at the Florida Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla. A private group, helped by a conservative law firm, set up the first nativity scene in decades inside the Florida Capitol Rotunda.

(Harrisburg) -- A midstate school district is facing criticism for its decision to cancel a Christmas play production.

Fifth graders at Centerville Elementary School in Lancaster County's Hempfield School District have put on Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" for more 20 years, but will not be performing it this year.

It says the play takes 20 hours of classroom time to put together -- time that should instead be used to teach material.

ABC 27 reported "many parents believe it was canceled because of complaints" over the line..."God Bless us everyone."

The district told the station that complaints initiated a review, but says it decided to cancel the play because it took too much instructional time.

Two right-wing news outlets -- Fox News and Breitbart -- picked up the story.

That led to an outcry, and a Jewish family that had asked if their child could be excused from the play has fled the county because they're being blamed for the cancellation. However, in a statement late Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League says reports the family "fled" Lancaster County are untrue, and the family is instead of vacation.

That family told LNP their child has faced abuse since November, and they fear for their safety.

Hempfield School District declined comment for this story.

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