A New Jersey school district is apologizing after a substitute teacher told first grade students Santa Claus isn't real. In a letter to parents, Cedar Hill School Principal Michael Raj, in Montville, said once he became aware of the situation, he "immediately" spoke to the substitute teacher about "her poor judgment."
"I am sending this letter so that you are aware of the situation and if the conversation comes up at home over the next few days you can take appropriate steps to maintain the childhood innocence of the holiday season," Raj added.
He then apologized to parents, saying as a parent himself, he is "truly aware of the sensitive nature" of the announcement.
Lisa Simek, an upset parent, said the teacher told students Santa isn't real and parents "just buy presents and put them under their tree."
Simek said the teacher also tried to ruin the spirit of other holidays. "She told them reindeer can't fly and elves are not real [and] elf on the shelf is just a pretend doll that your parents move around," Simek wrote on Facebook.
"She did not even stop there: the tooth fairy is not real because mom or dad just sneak into your room in the middle of the night and put money under your pillow, same goes for the Easter bunny. She told them magic does not exist. There is no such thing as magic anything," Simek wrote.
Montville Schools Superintendent Rene Rovtar issued a statement saying she was "troubled" and "disheartened" by the incident. "The childhood wonder associated with all holidays and traditions is something I personally hold near and dear in my own heart," Rovtar said.
Administrators didn't release the teacher's name and haven't said if she would continue to teach in the district.
Simek, though, had sympathy for the teacher. "Moral of the story: Just be kind," she wrote. "When in doubt, Always choose being kind, and you will always be in the right."