School Considers A Religious Holiday For Muslims

To be fair, no doubt Greeks will now deserve a holiday to celebrate the heroic stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae; The Hindus must of course be allowed to celebrate Diwali; atheists will want a holiday to celebrate the birth of Charles Darwin and Russians will want to celebrate all their holy days according to their own Julian calendar ..... I could go on...

Muslims may get a religious holiday recognized by a public school in the Hillsborough County school district. Terrace Community School, a charter school housed at the Museum of Science & Industry, is considering changing its school calendar to give a day off for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. The school's board will vote on the proposal at its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The proposal came from Principal Gary Hocevar after controversy erupted in the Hillsborough County school district. Last month, the Hillsborough County school board decided to eliminate all days off coinciding with religious holidays except Christmas, which falls during winter break. The move came after a group of Muslims asked for a day off for Eid al-Fitr. After receiving thousands of e-mails and phone calls and much national news media attention, the board reversed that decision but still did not add a day off for the Muslim holiday. The issue raised questions by Terrace Community students, and Hocevar proposed changing his school's calendar at November's board meeting.

Hocevar expected the proposal to be controversial, so Terrace Community board members decided to delay the vote until December. But Hocevar said he has received only one phone call in opposition to the change. "Most of our parents were really supportive of the idea since our school is so diverse," Hocevar said.

About 5 percent of the school's 352 students are Muslim. Charter schools operate as public schools but without many district restrictions. They are free to create their own calendar, but most operate on the district's schedule to accommodate school services and parents who might have children in other schools. If the charter school board approves the new calendar, it will be the first time the school's schedule will differ from the district's. The school's calendar still would include days off for Yom Kippur and Good Friday.


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