Wausau School District limits religious music - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wausau School District limits religious music

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Wausau (WAOW) -The Wausau School District is under fire after a controversial proposal to limit religious songs.

District leaders say they're concerned about a winter program for a popular high school choir group.  This has sparked a heated debate and some serious questions.  School board members are furious, saying they were totally left out of this decision.  And now, the Wausau West Master Singers has temporarily disbanded, according to its director.

Wausau School District leaders released a statement late Monday afternoon clarifying this issue and earlier reports about it.  Leaders say a district music committee is concerned about the Master Singers winter program.  The group was scheduled to perform at about 15 places in the Wausau area during December.  On the program—religious songs.

But school attorneys say celebrating Christmas through Christmas caroling isn't allowed, so the music committee has proposed two options.  One, the Master Singers program could include no religious songs, or two, the group could change the theme of the winter performance entirely.

As part of changing the theme, school attorneys told the committee the program could include "one religiously-themed Christmas selection along with four other varied selections, which reflected themes from religious, secular, or cultural traditions," according to the district statement.  However, this was meant only as an example and not as a policy, district leaders said.

But some school board members say they're upset they haven't been involved in this decision.  "It angers me, it frustrates me that for some unknown reason that administration took it upon themselves to make what really boils down to a very significant policy determination without bringing it to the board," said Wausau School Board member Pat McKee.  But district leaders say the school board hasn't been involved in this issue for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, social media is on fire with people talking about this issue. A Facebook page was created, and an online petition has been circulating.  The music committee planned to meet again Tuesday "to determine how the Master Singers performances" would proceed, according to the school district statement.

No one from the Wausau School District responded to requests for an on-camera interview.

Wausau School District statement: http://www.waow.com/link/661618/wausau-statement

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