Maryland Considers Religious Holiday Leave For Students

A public school education committee in Maryland has recommended that all students be given two floating holidays for religious observance.

In late December, a state education committee devoted to minority student issues, offered the proposal that would allow students to use those days to observe religious celebrations, such as the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the feast that follows the pilgrimage to Mecca, without being marked absent or penalized for missing a test.

Public schools throughout Maryland have traditionally closed for Christmas in December and many also provided a day off in September to mark the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The Baltimore County Muslim Council (BCMC) during 2004 sent representatives to school board meetings throughout the state to lobby for official Islamic holidays in the schools.

Bash Pharoan, BCMC’s president, lauded the education committee’s recommendation, telling The Washington Times it was “a step in the right direction.”

The committee’s proposal would have to be approved by the state’s superintendent. Even if the floating days were adopted, Pharoan told area media that he would continue lobbying for the schools to officially recognize Islamic holidays.