School district's decision on religious holidays outrages community

Maryland's largest public school district is facing heavy criticism for changing next year's calendar. It includes no mention of religious holidays, even when schools are closed on those days and critics say the decision disrespects Christians, Jews and Muslims, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.

Muslim families pressed the school district for a day off to celebrate a religious holiday. Instead they voted to wipe away all religious holidays from the 2015-2016 school calendar.

"The Muslim community is the only one who has to choose between education and religion," Hannah Shraim said.

She said she looks forward to Eid al-Adha every year.

"It's like a Muslim Christmas, so to speak," she said.

The eleventh-grader also takes her studies very seriously.

"Hannah is a straight-A student," her mother May said. "If she misses one day of school she has a panic attack."

"It's like missing a week of school," Hannah said.

School officials in Montgomery County, Maryland say their policy is to give excused absences to students who miss classes for religious holidays.

But Hannah tried to persuade the district to be more inclusive and include Eid al-Adha as an official day off from school. Instead, the Montgomery county school board voted Tuesday to eliminate references to religious holidays from next year's calendar.

"I think we touched a couple of third rails," Montgomery County school board president Phil Kauffman said. "That's really what many other school systems -- New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta -- it's really the norm."

Still, the decision has upset parents of all religious faiths.

"We did not ask for Christmas to be removed, we did not ask for the Jewish holidays to be removed from the calendar," one Montgomery County parent said.

"The reality is, we are still closed for Christmas," Kauffman said. "We are still closed for Yom Kippur."

It's just that the names of those religious holidays will no longer be listed on the school's calendar, handing equality-seekers something very different than what they asked for.

"It was like a punch in the face it came out of nowhere," May said. "It was very insensitive to our Christian and Jewish neighbors.

The district said the days designated as school holidays aren't based around religion, that there's separation of church and state. They simply have to shut down on days shown to have a "high level of student and staff absenteeism."

"We don't know the religion of our teachers, we don't know the religion of our students," Kauffman said. "We don't collect that data."

Hannah's mom said this issue has the potential to bring together people of all faiths.

"Instead of separating us, the communities apart, it might just be that we are going to be now united together," May said.

School officials said they'll review the policy before next year's vote. They'll speak with districts across the country that have closed for the Eid al-Adha holidays to see what criteria they use.