UPDATE: Equality for Eid Campaign In Montgomery County

Civil Rights

Attendance on Eid al-Adha 2013:

Last Eid-ul-Adha, October 15, 2013, MCPS staff and students were urged by our coalition to stay home from school to celebrate Eid. Records indicate over 5% of students and 4% of teachers were absent that day. In order to thoroughly analyze this data, we must compare the absences to attendance on a typical school day. This data has been requested of MCPS, and we are awaiting a response.

MCPS Board of Education's Vote Last November:

As described in this Washington Post article, during the MCPS' Board of Education meeting on November 16, 2103, the board voted to establish the calendar for the 2014-15 academic year. CAIR-MD submitted written and oral testimony at this meeting. This vote was purely symbolic since during the 2014-15 school year, both Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are projected to fall on non-school days. Still, two of eight members, Mike Durso and Justin Kim, voted against the calendar to signal their support for the Muslim community. We are pleased by their support, as well as the supportive words offered by member Chris Barclay; and we request that you email them a note of thanks. Their respective emails are: Michael_A_Durso@mcpsmd.org, Justin_Kim@mcpsmd.org, and Christopher_Barclay@mcpsmd.org

Yom Kippur and Eid-ul-Adha Coincide in 2015:

The MCPS' Board of Education will re-convene in November '14 to vote on the calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. During that academic year, Eid-ul-Adha (September 23rd, 2015) is expected to land on the same day as the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur – for which MCPS is already closed (Eid ul-Fitr is projected to fall in July during the summer break, so is not an issue). Our coalition plans to urge MCPS in 2014 to recognize the official designation for school closing on this day to acknowledge school closing for Eid-ul-Adha in addition to observance of Yom Kippur.

MCPS's Poll Reveals Long-Denied Politicization of Religious Holidays:

We have repeatedly been informed by the MCPS administration and the Board of Education that school closings are not a political issue and rather are strictly granted based on attendance data (even though they have failed to articulate absence criteria). This claim strains credulity when the schools are explicitly closed for Good Friday, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. However, newly-revealed documents from MCPS seem to disprove this claim. We have discovered a memo written by the MCPS superintendent in 1974. In it he says:

“The Board of Education's 1974-1975 school calendar was developed following a countywide random survey of more than 3,000 parents and employees.... The survey showed, among other things, that: … About half (49%) the parents surveyed thought schools should continue to close on Columbus Day, but it was the least favored of current school holidays. (89% of parents wanted to retain Labor Day as a holiday, 62% to retain Washington's Birthday, 65% Yom Kippur.” MCPS's long-held claim that school closings are strictly granted based only on attendance records is simply no longer tenable. Conducting a public poll to determine one's course of action is a very clear and explicitly political act.

Upcoming Changes to the Board of Education Offer Welcome Opportunities for Equality:

The 8-member Board of Education will be undergoing significant changes in 2014. This potentially improves our chances of securing equality for the Eid holiday. Ms. Shirley Brandman has announced her retirement and Mr. Justin Kim's 1-year-term as Student-Member of the Board will be ending soon. Mr. Barclay is also reportedly considering leaving the board to run for higher office. All replacements would be chosen in elections later this year. We will closely monitor the candidates’ positions on equality for Muslims in MCPS.

We are grateful to our friends and allies who continue to stand by us as we strive for equality for Muslim students and educators in MCPS. Thank you for your unwavering support!

CAIR-MD & The Equality for Eid Coalition  |  www.Equality4Eid.com