Parent claims Pinellas teacher out of bounds with comments on Santa Claus

SEMINOLE, Fla. - "He was in tears.  He was very distraught," said Kevin Durbin.

Durbin was describing his fourth-grade son, and how the ten-year-old felt when he came home from Starkey Elementary school Monday.

Durbin says for his family, like many other families with young children, Christmas is a special time of year; with the man in the red suit taking center stage.

"Santa's a big, fat, jolly guy with a white beard, and a red hat, with some reindeer that brings them presents on Christmas Day," Durbin explained.

Durbin says his son, and others in the class, became upset when their music teacher at the school began to speak of Santa.

"He told me that she went 'Santa' and made the (throat-cutting) gesture.  And he said it led him to believe that there wasn't a Santa Claus," Durbin recalled.

Durbin, who also has a second-grade daughter at Starkey Elementary, said he went to the school to voice his concerns Tuesday morning.

Melanie Marquez, spokesperson for the Pinellas County School District, said the principal at Starkey is aware of the situation and is acting accordingly.

"The goal right now is to understand the parent's concern and to understand exactly what happened.  So the principal will look into it, she'll speak with students that were in the class, she'll talk to the staff members and she'll see exactly what it was, (and) to the best of her ability understand what happened," Marquez explained.

Angela Pouliot also has two kids at Starkey Elementary and hopes this was a one-time occurrence.

"It's kind of disheartening.  It's not really the teacher's objective to teach them about Santa Claus or anything of the sort.  That's up to the parents," she said.  

Kevin Durbin just wants to keep the Christmas spirit alive and well in his home.  And he hopes that his kids will continue to anticipate Santa with the same exuberance they always have.

"I believe that if he (Santa Claus) lives in your heart, that he's real no matter what anybody else says," Durbin said.

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