In Baltimore County, Schools Won't Close for Muslim Holidays but Student Attendance on Holy Days May be Monitored

March 1, 2006

Source: The Baltimore Sun,0,5567442.story

On March 1, 2006 The Baltimore Sun reported, "The Baltimore County school board asked Superintendent Joe A. Hairston last night to monitor the attendance of Muslim students on religious observances and to designate the dates of Muslim holiday observances on the school calendar. The monitoring was among several recommendations by a study group on the school system calendar in response to complaints of inequity from the Muslim community... School board President Tom Grzymski appointed an ad-hoc committee to come up with recommendations about the school system calendar. The four-member group met twice in January and developed eight suggestions, including that the school system lobby the State Board of Education to change statewide policy on excused absences, so 'religious observance would not ... prevent any student from obtaining perfect attendance.' A state advisory group sent a similar proposal to the state board in 2004. Individual school districts can set policies on perfect attendance awards, said state education department spokesman William Reinhard... The school board must advertise meetings of seven or more members. Those meetings must be open to the public except when the agenda includes matters described under state law, such as contract negotiations and personnel issues. Grzymski said the committee needed time to talk privately about the school calendar."