Islamic Holiday Not Included in Montgomery Co. School Calendar

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Lauren McLendon, All News 99.1 WNEW (Credit: CBSDC.com) Lauren McLendon
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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The Muslim community in Montgomery County didn’t get the results it was hoping for as it tried to make a major Islamic holy day an official school holiday.

Islamic families spoke at a school board meeting Tuesday to ask that Eid al-Adha, a holy day that Muslims compare to Christmas or Yom Kippur, be added to the school calendar.

But school board members said they did not include Eid al-Adha in the newly-approved 2014-2015 calendar because they can’t legally close school for religious reasons unless the holiday causes operational issues, like absenteeism.

This year, the holy day only led to 4 percent absenteeism in Montgomery County, WNEW’s Karen Adams reports.

Schools give excused absences to students who are absent for religious holidays, but some Muslim families say that isn’t enough.

Amal Muhtaseb, a mother of three Montgomery County Public School students who spoke at the meeting, said her children didn’t enjoy the holiday on Oct. 15 because they were concerned with missing school work.

“An excused day off is not the solution. My children have to come back and make up tests and homework. They will miss valuable time of classroom instruction,” Muhtaseb said, according to meeting documents. “I want my children to be treated in the same way their Christian and Jewish classmates are.”

Montgomery County has a growing Islamic population that is estimated at about 12,000 people, though there are no county or census figures on the Muslim community.

Muslim leaders in the county started a petition over several weeks to push Montgomery County Public Schools to recognize the holiday’s importance.

The Eid al-Adha holiday falls on a weekend next year, so it won’t be an issue for families.

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WNEW’s Karen Adams contributed to this report. Follow her and WNEW on Twitter.

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