Proposed School Calendar Removes Jewish Holiday, Keeps Muslim Holiday Off
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 The decision to close on these days—originally made in the 1970s—has been based on the experience of significant student and staff absenteeism impacting the school system’s ability to continue an instructional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.
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 […]
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 […]