FORDLAND, Mo. - Ozarks parents are up in arms over a new school policy they say is more than just unfair, it's breaking their kids' spirits.
Fordland Elementary School is only allowing the youngest kids to dress in costume for Halloween this year.
Fordland parents say elementary school is the one place where kids should still be kids.
"Telling them to grow up, at the age, in third grade?" "They're babies, they're kids, they're ten."
They'll be kids, only kids for Halloween this year. Third, fourth and fifth graders in Fordland aren't allowed to dress up during the school-wide Halloween Party.
"They're taking away some of the simple joys our children dream and look forward to all year," said Heather Tiff.
Parents learned of the change in a letter from the elementary principal. The district superintendent says it's for safety reasons and third through fifth graders are mature enough to make the sacrifice.
"We had complaints from the staff," said Fordland Superintendent Rick Spacek. "They couldn't even allow kids to go to the bathrooms in the afternoons because they were full of adults that we didn't know, no background checks, who cannot legally have access to a kid or student, no way of controlling the flow in and out of the building."
That's because parents, friends, and family attend the party too. And Rick Spacek says some of them are in costume. So, neither kids nor adults could be identified.
"Parents tell us they don't mind compromising like sending their child to school with something that slips on easily over their clothes. mask and anything that covers their face is already banned. But even with a hood on people are still identifiable."
"It's just a little skirt that's zebra stripped and has a tail and some ears on a hoodie. It's not going to be hard for her to put on."
These moms say make that a requirement. But don't take away a kids' right to be a kid, or maybe a pirate.
"I personally don't believe our third, fourth and fifth graders should be mature. They're kids."
Spacek says every other regular school day, the doors are locked. But, holidays in the past have been a free-for-all. And that is what the district is trying to change.