San Francisco school board reverses decision to include Muslim holidays in school calendar

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SAN FRANCISCO — Na passed a resolution last month to include two Islamic holidays on the calendar of the San Francisco Unified School District, the district school board voted Tuesday to reverse that decision.

The resolution passed Tuesday suspends the council’s initial resolution to recognize Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as public holidays in the 2022-2023 calendar. It also calls for “further analysis” of how to adequately recognize culturally important vacations for students.

Chief Inspector Matt Wayne has until Jan. 31 to present his recommendations on communication best practices, school vacations, protecting students from absence-related penalties, and determining vacations,” based on the values ​​of diversity. , equality and inclusion, student-centered outcomes, and legal compliance.”

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Until its presentation of recommendations, the board will not vote on the 2023-2024 calendar.

“The board is committed to an inclusive, equity-focused approach to the issue of determining recognition of culturally significant holidays, including whether such holiday will be added as a school holiday with school and/or office closures as a means of recognition,” reads the resolution.

But local representatives of the Arab and Muslim communities say they feel disrespected and point to recent threats of lawsuits against the district as the driving force behind the school board’s decisions.

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In late August, the same attorney who sued the school district for renaming schools, Paul Scott, threatened to file a new lawsuit against the board for recognizing the two Islamic holidays. He argued that the administration favors one religion over another, citing a violation of the founding clause of the US Constitution.

“We believe that the board has once again been held hostage to racist lawsuits that are reversing any attempt to advance even moderately progressive problems in San Francisco. Our expectation is that SFUSD will still implement Eid in the 2023-24 school year, and our commitment is to continue the fight to ensure our city’s diverse communities are treated with the dignity we deserve,” said Lara Kiswani, executive director of the San Francisco-based Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

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Raoul Wallenberg High School student Sara Ouchene initially kicked off recognizing Muslim holidays in the school calendar after she started a petition in 2021.

“As students, we are offended and angry by this attack on our vacation, our culture and our community. But we are still hopeful that the majority of this board will stick to the original resolution it passed and support Muslim students and families, ‘ said Ouchene.

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