Montgomery Co. Schools Remove References to Religious Holidays From Calendar | NBC4 Washington

Montgomery Co. Schools Remove References to Religious Holidays From Calendar

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Students in Montgomery County will still have off from school on Christmas and Yom Kippur -- but the school calendar will no longer call those holidays "Christmas" or "Yom Kippur." News4's Chris Gordon reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014)

    Students in Montgomery County, Maryland will still have off from school on Christmas and Yom Kippur -- but the school calendar will no longer call those holidays "Christmas" or "Yom Kippur."

    The county's Board of Education voted Tuesday afternoon to remove any mentions of any religious holidays on the calendar next school year.

    Montgomery County Schools Calendar Debate

    [DC] Montgomery County Schools Calendar Debate
    Montgomery County School Board considers eliminating references to religious holidays on their calendar next year. News4's Chris Gordon explains why. (Published Monday, Nov. 10, 2014)

    The issue stemmed from the schools being closed for Jewish holidays but not for Muslim ones.

    The Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha coincides with Yom Kippur on Sept. 23, 2015.

    Since schools do not close for Muslim holidays, Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr recommended the Board of Education eliminate the references to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur on the 2015-2016 calendar.

    The board voted to approve the recommendation Tuesday.

    County executive Ike Leggett said Monday he would have taken a different tactic if the decision were up to him.

    "I would simply add Eid to the existing holidays they already have without substituting any other holidays," Leggett said.

    Parent Samira Hussein, who is also a school employee, has campaigned for the past 20 years to have the Muslim holiday added to the school calendar.

    "The Eid is just the same exact as Christmas day or Easter day or Yom Kippur," she said. "The children want to home with their families. This is a family holiday that God designated and gave us the time to celebrate and be joyous."

    Montgomery County Public Schools have closed for the Jewish high holidays since the 1970s because of the county's large Jewish population in the county would create a high absenteeism rate in the county.

    County officials say the size of the county's Muslim population doesn't warrant closing schools.

    "High absenteeism is the main reason" for schools being closed on the Jewish high holidays, said Dana Tofig with Montgomery County Public Schools. "The absentee rate on the Eid holidays, when they've fallen on a school day, haven't been considerably higher or lower than it is on any other given day."

    Muslim groups who want equality for Eid said that they didn't think the Jewish holidays should be removed from the calendar.

    "What we're asking for is... to also have both the Jewish holiday and the Muslim holiday Eid Al Adha both be recognized on the school calendar," said Zainab Chaudry of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

    Muslim students said they can fall behind when they celebrate Eid.