‘Grinch’ principal on leave after attempt to ban Christmas items from school

Some Nebraskans are calling an elementary school principal a Grinch after she issued a memo to school staff that prohibited certain Christmas decorations and other religious symbols. Jennifer Sinclair of Manchester Elementary in Elkhorn, Neb., was placed on administrative leave Thursday following her directive, the Omaha World-Herald reported. District spokeswoman Kara Perchal said the district would not … Continue reading “‘Grinch’ principal on leave after attempt to ban Christmas items from school”

Some Nebraskans are calling an elementary school principal a Grinch after she issued a memo to school staff that prohibited certain Christmas decorations and other religious symbols.

Jennifer Sinclair of Manchester Elementary in Elkhorn, Neb., was placed on administrative leave Thursday following her directive, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

District spokeswoman Kara Perchal said the district would not comment further.

"Elkhorn Public Schools District administration promptly addressed the issue at Manchester Elementary School regarding the memo that was sent by the principal to Manchester elementary staff," the district said in a statement.

Items prohibited by Sinclair include Santa items, Christmas trees, the “Elf on the Shelf,” singing Christmas carols, playing Christmas music, candy canes and reindeer, homemade ornament gifts, Christmas movies and red and green items.

The reasoning behind the proposed ban wasn't entirely clear from the principal's statement.

"I'm hopeful we can avoid the discomfort of me directly questioning something you've copied, posted, and had your kids do," the memo states. "That makes me uncomfortable, and I know it doesn't feel good."

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Sinclair signed the memo: The (Unintentional) Grinch who stole Christmas (from Manchester)."

The memo upset some school staffers, prompting them to get in touch the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based First Amendment group.

Mat Staver, the group's founder and chairman, said the memo was the “most unique and I would say outrageous example” he’s seen of censoring Christmas symbols.

After the group sent the district a letter decrying the ban, it was reversed, the paper reported.

In a policy guide to teachers, the district said “Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and Easter eggs and bunnies are considered to be secular, seasonal symbols and may be displayed as teaching aids provided they do not disrupt the instructional program for students.”

In a letter to parents Wednesday, Sinclair said she made a mistake and apologized to her staff for the negative attention her memo brought to the school and the district.

“I love the Manchester staff and our students,” she said. “It is an honor to serve as the principal at Manchester Elementary.”

Nebraska principal reportedly bans candy canes, says ‘J shape’ stands for Jesus

An elementary school principal in Nebraska was placed on leave after telling teachers to avoid decorating their classrooms with Christmas-themed ornamentations so as not to offend those who don't celebrate the holiday.

The principal at Manchester Elementary School, identified by Fox affiliate KPTM as Jennifer Sinclair, sent out a memo earlier this week with guidelines as to what is considered appropriate for classroom decorations and assignments.

MAN RUINS CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL BY SCREAMING 'THERE'S NO SANTA' AT KIDS

Teachers were reportedly told that generic winter-themed items, such as sledding and scarves, and the "Frozen" character Olaf, were acceptable.

New Jersey teacher tells first- graders Santa is not real

Decorations that included Santa, Christmas trees, reindeer, green and red colored items and even candy canes, however, were not acceptable for the elementary school.

The candy canes, according to KETV, were prohibited because Sinclair deemed them to have religious significance. "Historically, the shape is a 'J' for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection," she reportedly wrote. "This would also include different colored candy canes."

"I feel uncomfortable that I have to get this specific, but for everyone's comfort, I will," Sinclair reportedly wrote in the memo.

The Elkhorn School District told Fox News in a statement that "the memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school."

The district's policy states that "Christmas trees, Santa Claus and Easter eggs and bunnies are considered to be secular, seasonal symbols and may be displayed as teaching aids provided they do not disrupt the instructional program for students."

Sinclair was placed on administrative leave as of Thursday morning.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Nebraska man blames accident on driving ‘like Ace Ventura,’ cops say

Alrighty then.

A Nebraska man who was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence reportedly blamed crashing into a tree on driving “like Ace Ventura,” the character played by Jim Carrey in the 1994 comedy.

The Lincoln resident ran off the road around 1 a.m. Saturday, 1011 Now reported. A police report identified the man as 26-year-old Rocky Dumais. The Lincoln Police Department said Dumais veered off the road, drove over a curb, then hit and uprooted a tree in the front yard of a residential home before slamming into a retaining wall. Dumais left the scene of the accident but was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to an accident report.

Dumais allegedly told officers he crashed his vehicle because his windshield wipers didn’t work, forcing him to stick his head out in the rain while he drove, “like Ace Ventura.”

He was charged with DUI, careless driving, leaving the scene of the accident, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license, according to the accident report.

The movie character was forced to drive with his head out the window due to a smashed windshield.

The report said the driver allegedly had a blood alcohol content of .137 (Nebraska’s legal limit is 0.08). Dumais was not injured, but the accident reportedly caused around $500 in property damage.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Midwest snowstorm cancels hundreds of flights as holiday weekend winds down

A massive storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday, canceling hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and Kansas City and forcing parts of some major highways to shut down as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend drew to a close.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow. (AP)

FlightAware reported that 792 flights into or out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had been canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 426 flights experiencing delays. Another 124 flights into or out of Chicago Midway International Airport were canceled, with 83 other flights experiencing delays.

Kansas City International Airport closed to arriving flights at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time due to visibility that was reduced to less than a quarter-mile. The airport re-opened to arrivals approximately four hours later.

A total of 188 flights into and out of Kansas City were canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 35 flights experiencing delays.

In St. Louis, a tornado warning was issued for an area including Lambert International Airport shortly before 5 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many flights were affected. The warning expired approximately 15 minutes later.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard-like conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning had extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. On Sunday evening, the warning was extended to Chicago and surrounding counties. It was set to expire at 9 a.m. Monday.

Other parts of the Central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.

DEADLY WILDFIRE '100 PERCENT CONTAINED' AS GRIM SEARCH CONTINUES

In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.

Traffic moves west along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Kearney resident Amy Scott told the Kansas City Star her brother-in-law, his wife and their son were hoping to make it as far as Salina, Kan., on Sunday evening. They reported seeing numerous crashes on Interstate 70, including an ambulance that was tipped over on its side. Scott added that the group was stuck on the highway for approximately an hour and hoped not to run out of gas.

AIR FORCE FAMILY FOUND DEAD IN THANKSGIVING SUV CRASH

"They wanted to get as far as they could because they were supposed to be back to work tomorrow [Monday],” Scott told the paper. “I’m just saying prayers for them and others who have to be out on the roads. I wish they didn’t have to, but I understood why they did have to.”

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border. As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. The weather service said on Twitter Sunday night that Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches fell in Rockford, Illinois.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and southwest Iowa. By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

Schools in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois called off Monday classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hundreds attend funeral of Vietnam vet with ‘no known family’

A Vietnam War veteran who passed away last week with no known living relatives was laid to rest Tuesday at a Nebraska cemetery — with as many as 2,000 supporters attending — after his funeral notice went viral.

Stanley Stoltz, of Bennington, Neb., died Nov. 18 at the age of 73. The Omaha World-Herald newspaper ran a 23-word notice inviting the public to his funeral.

"Public invited to cemetery to honor Vietnam veteran with no known family," it read. "Interment at Omaha National Cemetery on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 2 pm." The notice quickly spread around social media and was picked up by news networks.

Stanley Stoltz

On Tuesday, cemetery officials estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people turned out for Stoltz's burial. WOWT-TV reported that the burial service started late so that stragglers would not miss anything.

MOUNT RUSHMORE'S SECRET ROOM AND OTHER GREAT PLACES IN AMERICA

"No vet deserves to die alone," attendee Dick Harrington told the station.

The Omaha World-Herald funeral notice for Stanley Stoltz. (Facebook/Omaha Police Department)

"This is the kind of reception our Vietnam veterans deserved," said Amy Douglas, another mourner. "And the fact that he gets this kind of reception going home is fitting. It's fitting."

Stoltz was born May 29, 1945, and raised in Curlew, Iowa. Former Bennington Mayor Bill Bohn, who was Stoltz’s friend and neighbor, told The Associated Press that Stoltz settled in the town of approximately 1,500 after his Vietnam service.

NURSES DONATE MEGA MILLIONS WINNINGS TO COLLEAGUES IN NEED

Friends say Stoltz’s first wife died of cancer, and he and his second wife divorced. He had no children and was preceded in death by his parents and siblings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Midwest snowstorm cancels hundreds of flights as holiday weekend winds down

A massive storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday, canceling hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and Kansas City and forcing parts of some major highways to shut down as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend drew to a close.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow. (AP)

FlightAware reported that 792 flights into or out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had been canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 426 flights experiencing delays. Another 124 flights into or out of Chicago Midway International Airport were canceled, with 83 other flights experiencing delays.

Kansas City International Airport closed to arriving flights at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time due to visibility that was reduced to less than a quarter-mile. The airport re-opened to arrivals approximately four hours later.

A total of 188 flights into and out of Kansas City were canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 35 flights experiencing delays.

In St. Louis, a tornado warning was issued for an area including Lambert International Airport shortly before 5 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many flights were affected. The warning expired approximately 15 minutes later.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard-like conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning had extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. On Sunday evening, the warning was extended to Chicago and surrounding counties. It was set to expire at 9 a.m. Monday.

Other parts of the Central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.

DEADLY WILDFIRE '100 PERCENT CONTAINED' AS GRIM SEARCH CONTINUES

In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.

Traffic moves west along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Kearney resident Amy Scott told the Kansas City Star her brother-in-law, his wife and their son were hoping to make it as far as Salina, Kan., on Sunday evening. They reported seeing numerous crashes on Interstate 70, including an ambulance that was tipped over on its side. Scott added that the group was stuck on the highway for approximately an hour and hoped not to run out of gas.

AIR FORCE FAMILY FOUND DEAD IN THANKSGIVING SUV CRASH

"They wanted to get as far as they could because they were supposed to be back to work tomorrow [Monday],” Scott told the paper. “I’m just saying prayers for them and others who have to be out on the roads. I wish they didn’t have to, but I understood why they did have to.”

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border. As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. The weather service said on Twitter Sunday night that Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches fell in Rockford, Illinois.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and southwest Iowa. By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

Schools in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois called off Monday classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hundreds attend funeral of Vietnam vet with ‘no known family’

A Vietnam War veteran who passed away last week with no known living relatives was laid to rest Tuesday at a Nebraska cemetery — with as many as 2,000 supporters attending — after his funeral notice went viral.

Stanley Stoltz, of Bennington, Neb., died Nov. 18 at the age of 73. The Omaha World-Herald newspaper ran a 23-word notice inviting the public to his funeral.

"Public invited to cemetery to honor Vietnam veteran with no known family," it read. "Interment at Omaha National Cemetery on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 2 pm." The notice quickly spread around social media and was picked up by news networks.

Stanley Stoltz

On Tuesday, cemetery officials estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people turned out for Stoltz's burial. WOWT-TV reported that the burial service started late so that stragglers would not miss anything.

MOUNT RUSHMORE'S SECRET ROOM AND OTHER GREAT PLACES IN AMERICA

"No vet deserves to die alone," attendee Dick Harrington told the station.

The Omaha World-Herald funeral notice for Stanley Stoltz. (Facebook/Omaha Police Department)

"This is the kind of reception our Vietnam veterans deserved," said Amy Douglas, another mourner. "And the fact that he gets this kind of reception going home is fitting. It's fitting."

Stoltz was born May 29, 1945, and raised in Curlew, Iowa. Former Bennington Mayor Bill Bohn, who was Stoltz’s friend and neighbor, told The Associated Press that Stoltz settled in the town of approximately 1,500 after his Vietnam service.

NURSES DONATE MEGA MILLIONS WINNINGS TO COLLEAGUES IN NEED

Friends say Stoltz’s first wife died of cancer, and he and his second wife divorced. He had no children and was preceded in death by his parents and siblings.

Nebraska cockfighting bust leads to 32 arrests

OMAHA, Neb. – Nebraska authorities arrested 32 men and seized 186 roosters when they broke up a cockfighting event.

The Omaha World-Herald reports the Nebraska Humane Society raided a farm near Louisville, Nebraska, on Saturday after receiving a tip about a cockfighting event there.

Mark Langan with the Nebraska Humane Society says the raid broke up a large, well-organized cockfighting operation.

The men who were arrested range in age between 20 and 67. They all face charges of participating, viewing or promoting cockfighting. Two juveniles were also detained.

Cass County Sheriff William Brueggemann says the two property owners said they didn't know why so many people were on their property.

Many others at the cockfighting event were able to escape into fields near the property before officers could arrest them.

Midwest snowstorm cancels hundreds of flights as holiday weekend winds down

A massive storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday, canceling hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and Kansas City and forcing parts of some major highways to shut down as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend drew to a close.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow. (AP)

FlightAware reported that 792 flights into or out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had been canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 426 flights experiencing delays. Another 124 flights into or out of Chicago Midway International Airport were canceled, with 83 other flights experiencing delays.

Kansas City International Airport closed to arriving flights at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time due to visibility that was reduced to less than a quarter-mile. The airport re-opened to arrivals approximately four hours later.

A total of 188 flights into and out of Kansas City were canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 35 flights experiencing delays.

In St. Louis, a tornado warning was issued for an area including Lambert International Airport shortly before 5 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many flights were affected. The warning expired approximately 15 minutes later.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard-like conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning had extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. On Sunday evening, the warning was extended to Chicago and surrounding counties. It was set to expire at 9 a.m. Monday.

Other parts of the Central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.

DEADLY WILDFIRE '100 PERCENT CONTAINED' AS GRIM SEARCH CONTINUES

In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.

Traffic moves west along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Kearney resident Amy Scott told the Kansas City Star her brother-in-law, his wife and their son were hoping to make it as far as Salina, Kan., on Sunday evening. They reported seeing numerous crashes on Interstate 70, including an ambulance that was tipped over on its side. Scott added that the group was stuck on the highway for approximately an hour and hoped not to run out of gas.

AIR FORCE FAMILY FOUND DEAD IN THANKSGIVING SUV CRASH

"They wanted to get as far as they could because they were supposed to be back to work tomorrow [Monday],” Scott told the paper. “I’m just saying prayers for them and others who have to be out on the roads. I wish they didn’t have to, but I understood why they did have to.”

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border. As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. The weather service said on Twitter Sunday night that Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches fell in Rockford, Illinois.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and southwest Iowa. By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

Schools in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois called off Monday classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.