Johua Starr bell time

Proposed School Calendar Removes Jewish Holiday, Keeps Muslim Holiday Off

Students may still be off school when the Jewish holidays of  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are  celebrated next year, but they may not be listed on the calendar that way.Starr meets with press for slider 450x280

The Montgomery County Board of Education is considering a change to next year’s school calendar that would leave off the name of these two Jewish holidays but still keep them as days off school. The issue was brought up by The Maryland Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations in partnership with the Equality for Eid Coalition who is  encouraging Montgomery County Schools to list the Muslim Holiday Eid al-Adha as a day off for students.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the 2015-2016 school calendar Nov. 11.

In 2014, Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur fell on the same day, October 4, and both were noted on the Comprehensive Calendar, according to a school board document.

In a memo to the school board explaining his recommendation, Dr. Joshua Starr wrote, “In preparing Attachment A, I have considered the concerns raised by some representatives of the Muslim community about the desire to recognize Muslim holidays and close schools on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, or at least have these days noted on the school calendar.

However, as we have discussed in the past, decisions about closing schools on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, specifically, are not based on honoring or favoring a particular religious, cultural, or ethnic group. The decision to close on these days—originally made in the 1970s—has been based on the experience of significant student and staff absenteeism impacting the school system’s ability to continue an instructional program and operate safe schools,” .

In that memo, Starr said he suggests not closing school for the Muslim holiday.

“My recommendation is for the Board to adopt Attachment A1, as the reason for closing schools on these days is an operational one only. Given the input received from the community regarding Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, MCPS staff will continue to monitor the impact of the Muslim holidays on school attendance. In prior years, there have been no significant attendance issues on these holidays. Additionally, please note that Attachment A1 identifies those public school holidays that are designated in the Annotated Code of Maryland; therefore a legal requirement that schools close for students on these days.” Starr wrote in the memo.

Also in his memo at the request of Board Member Patricia O’Neill, Starr noted the impact should the state mandate that school start after Labor Day as proposed by Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot.

Labor Day in 2015 is September 7.

“If we were not able to start school until September 8, 2015, the last day of school would be June 24, 2016, and the contingency calendar would extend until July 1, 2016. This would have a tremendous impact on school system operations including summer school and training programs. It also would impact community programs for students that begin when school ends in June,” Starr wrote in the memo.

You can read Starr’s full memo here and see the proposed school year calendar.

Related stories:

"Equality 4 Eid Coalition" Rally (Video)

George Leventhal at Eid Rally 450x280

UPDATED Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal joined the Equality 4 Eid Coalition and other community leaders on Sept. 23 to urge Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) staff and students—Muslim and non-Muslim—to stay home from school on Tuesday, Oct. 15 to help celebrate the holiday Eid al-Adha in solidarity with their Muslim friends. You can watch […]

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Campaign For Muslims Seeks Fair Treatment on Holy Days Off (Video)

MCOL 170 Muslim Equality 09 06 13   YouTube

A new online campaign is pushing for a change on the Montgomery County Public Schools calendar. Equality for Eid is asking for schools to close on two major holidays in the Muslim community—Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Take a look: Saqib Ali, a Co-Chair of Equality for Eid, is encouraging the Muslim community to stay […]

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Tamika Smith

About Tamika Smith

Tamika Smith is passionate and curious about the world. She often wonders what motivates people to walk in their particular journeys in life. A native of Miami, Florida Smith graduated from Howard University in 2007 and continues to give back through mentorship.


3 Responses to “Proposed School Calendar Removes Jewish Holiday, Keeps Muslim Holiday Off”

  1. On November 10, 2014 at 10:52 pm responded with... #

    If Jewish holidays are recognized because of the high number of Jewish teachers and students, corresponding to the high rate of absenteeism of Jewish teachers and students, what parallel does the Islamic community have? There is none.

    It would seem that this is just another opportunity for Islam to insinuate itself, without a valid need.

    If we recognize every religion’s holy days without respect to the impact it will have on our schools, we will eventually not have many school days. We should not be giving ear to any more of this divisive and invalid issue.

    Twice already Montgomery County said, “no.” What is it about “no” the Muslim community doesn’t understand?

    Please keep the calendar unchanged

  2. On November 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm responded with... #

    This is ridiculous. Now were going to change things to accomodate the muslim cimmunity. If u want your kid to stay home during your holiday so be it but to change the actial calander and eli m inate verbage ? Are we not living in the united states?. Get some balls! Ridiculous to submit everytime someone wants thing there way. Im not jewish but jewish holidays are popular we have a high demographic of jewish people in montg co. And now the calendar wont say easter break? your kidding me!

  3. On November 17, 2014 at 11:27 am responded with... #

    Montgomery County Board of Education school should have added the Muslim holiday to the calendar. No harm for such thing. Then, they should look at the number of students who don’t show up during Muslim’s holidays and make a decision.

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