ROCKVILLE, Md.– Montgomery County school board members are working on a set of guidelines for their school calendar after controversy over the removal of religious names from school holidays.
“Montgomery County Public Schools close on Jewish and Christian holidays, even though they’re no longer stated as such on the calendar,” said Zainab Chaudry of the Council on American-Islamic Relations at a Board of Education meeting. “Schools are still closed on these holidays, but they’re not closed on Muslim holidays.”
The proposed school calendar guidelines would continue to avoid mentioning religion, but close schools on days when 15 percent of students and staff would likely be absent. Chaudry says that percentage effectively cements school closings on Jewish and Christian holidays, while excluding Muslim holidays and holidays celebrated by those of other faiths.
“The board felt that there was a need to clarify what our process is,” says County Schools Spokesman Dana Tofig. He says that school closings are an “operational decision” which is “separate from religious belief,” since too many absences at one time would be disruptive.