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After passing a resolution last month to include two Muslim holidays on the San Francisco Unified School District’s calendar, the district’s school board has voted to reverse that decision.
The resolution approved Tuesday will suspend the board’s initial resolution to recognize Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as holidays in the 2022-23 calendar. It also calls for “further analysis” on how to adequately recognize culturally significant holidays for students.
Superintendent Matt Wayne has until Jan. 31 to present his recommendations on best practices on communication, teaching holidays in schools, protecting students from absence-related penalties and how to determine holidays, “based on the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, student-centered outcomes, and compliance with the law.”
Until his presentation of recommendations, the board will not vote on the 2023-24 calendar.
“The Board is committed to taking an inclusive, equity centered approach to the issue of determining how to acknowledge culturally significant holidays, including whether such a holiday shall be added as a school holiday with school and/or office closures as a means of recognition,” the resolution reads.
“We believe the Board has once again been held hostage by racist lawsuits that roll back any attempts to advance even moderately progressive issues in San Francisco. …”Lara Kiswani, Arab Resource and Organizing Center
But local representatives of the Arab and Muslim community say they feel disrespected, and are pointing to recent lawsuit threats against the district as the force behind the school board’s decisions.
In late August, the same lawyer who sued the school district for renaming schools, Paul Scott, threatened to file another lawsuit against the board for recognizing the two Muslim holidays. He argued that the board is favoring one religion over others, citing a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
“We believe the Board has once again been held hostage by racist lawsuits that roll back any attempts to advance even moderately progressive issues 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 the diverse communities of our city are treated with the dignity we deserve,” said Lara Kiswani, executive director of the San Francisco-based Arab Resource and Organizing Center.
Raoul Wallenberg High School student Sara Ouchene initially kickstarted the push to recognize Muslim holidays in the school calendar after she started a petition in 2021.
“As students, we are offended and angered by this attack on our holiday, our culture and our community. But we are still hopeful that the majority of this board is committed to standing by the original resolution it passed and supporting Muslim students and families,” Ouchene said.