Muslim Leader Wants Teaneck Schools Closed For Religious Holidays [Poll]
Should the district add two days off for religious observances?
A local Muslim community leader has asked Teaneck’s Board of Education to add two school days off for Muslim religious observances.
"There are a substantial number of Muslim families in Teaneck with children who attend the public schools," Khalid said in the report.
Khalid estimated there are about 300 to 500 Muslim families living in Teaneck. The township is home to two mosques, and North Jersey's Muslim community has grown significantly in recent years.
The Board of Education’s policy committee would discuss the request and could form a committee of local community members to review various religious holidays, said Trustee David Diuguid.
"It is important to know what the holidays mean to various groups and how it would affect the district to add more holidays," Diuguid said at the March 14 school board meeting.
Trustee Margot Fisher said the district could find ways to recognize the religious holidays without closing school.
Schools are required to provide 180 days of instruction, said Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association. The state Department of Education also uses a list of religious holidays students must be given excused absences for.
“Typically school districts close schools for such a holiday if a large enough percentage of students or staff is likely to be absent,” said a school board association survey of religious holiday closings.
Board of Education President Ardie Walser said the district did not collect data on student religions.
According to the school board association’s survey, the most common closings included Christmas, Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
“Ramadan lasts for a month; it would be impractical to close for that long! It would be better to have identified Eid as the holiday. Calendar issues are very difficult, and usually seem to hinge on adult needs, not student needs,” said one survey response.
Eid al-Fitr is a festival celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast, while Eid al-Adha is festival of sacrifice. The festival has drawn large crowds and elected officials to the Teaneck Armory.
Information about religious holidays in school districts around New Jersey is attached to this article, as provided by the New Jersey School Boards Association.
The Department of Education's list of official religious holidays can be found here.