An elementary school in New York has canceled its mock presidential election after teachers and staff raised concerns about kids repeating "negative rhetoric about minorities," according to the school's principal.
"Teachers have said they've heard some kids in the cafeteria chanting 'Trump! Trump! Trump!' or saying they don't want Muslims here," said Glen Rogers, principal of Jericho Elementary School in Centereach, New York.
"I mean, kids often repeat what they hear on the TV or the news, but it doesn't mean it's OK," Rogers told ABC News today. "We have a diverse community here. We want all our students to feel valued."What Kids Are Saying About the 2016 Presidential RaceTeachers Use Nasty Election to Spark Polite Student DebateFearing Election Day Trouble, Some US Schools Cancel Classes
To prevent minority students "from feeling uncomfortable," Glen said he and the school's teachers decided to change the mock vote for president to a vote for students' favorite school lunch.
"We still thought it was important to do something with voting and showing democracy in action," Rogers said. "We still want them to get excited about Election Day."
The principal added that the presidential election was "still an important topic" but that it would be "better explored in the classroom, where teachers can lead and guide discussions, rather than in the cafeteria among students."
He continued, "One thing we're really trying to teach the students is the differences between opinions and facts. It's important for our students to be able to express their opinions, but it's also important for them to be informed about it and not just repeating what they happen to hear."