Some Muslims in Montgomery County want schools to observe Muslim holidays

Protesters in Montgomery County are pushing for the school to observe Muslim holidays. (Photo: Kevin Lewis)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - Muslims across Montgomery County say the public school system caters to Christianity and Judaism but turns a blind eye toward Islam.

Some Muslims say Montgomery County schools should recognize Eid al-Fitr, a celebration on the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which marks the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

Unlike Rosh Hashanah, Christmas and Easter, schools currently hold class on both Islamic holidays while at least six school systems across the country have changed their calendars to recognize the Muslim religion.

"That's an unfair choice to force Muslim families to make, when Christian families and Jewish families do not face that same dilemma,” says Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal.

Administrators say it's not about religion, but instead attendance. For instance, last year Eid al-Adha fell on Friday October 26th.

Nevertheless, records show the student absentee rate was 5.56-percent - barely a tick higher than a typical Friday.

The Montgomery County School district released the following statement:
“State law makes it clear that we cannot close schools for religious purposes, but only for operational reasons, such as high absenteeism among staff or students. If a student is observing a religious holiday, it is considered an excused absence and the student must be given ample opportunity to make up any work and cannot be penalized in any way. We do not schedule tests on a major religious holidays.”