Source: Boston Examiner
This morning, the New Jersey Board of Education voted to approve their list of religious holidays permitting pupil absence from school for the 2010-2011 school year. Included for the first time on this list are the eight Pagan/Wiccan holidays, or sabbats. This marks the first time any state has approved Pagan holidays to a state calendar, and will set a precedence for other districts and states across the country.
This story starts with a mother sending in a note to get her daughter excused from school for Yule, 2009. Rev. Elena Ottinger's daughter attends Pennsville High School in the Salem County School District, located in Pennsville, NJ. Brianna Ottinger had recently finished her "Year and a Day", a traditional time of study for many Wiccan initiates. Rev. Ottinger, who has a doctorate in metaphysics, wrote a note to her daughter's school, letting them know that she would be taking Yule off from school to celebrate. When Brianna came home that day, it was with the list of approved religious holidays for NJ schools and a note from the vice principal that stated while they would give Brianna an excused absence, it would not be an excused absence based on a religious holiday.
Looking at that list, which includes a variety of approved days (including the birthday of author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard), Rev. Ottinger decided that it was not enough just to get an excused absence for her daughter, she wanted her daughter and others like her to have the same religious freedoms at school that others did.