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San Francisco school officials consider adding Muslim celebration of Eid to list of holidays

San Francisco school district mulls adding Eid to official holiday calendar
San Francisco school district mulls adding Eid to official holiday calendar 03:40

SAN FRANCISCO -- Muslim families marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Friday with the celebration of Eid, a holiday the community would like to see recognized by the San Francisco Unified School District.

In 2024, the holiday will fall during the week off students receive for Spring Break but students and local organizers say it is not enough to accommodate Eid, they want to see it observed on the academic calendar. 

"The whole Muslim community in San Francisco is gathering together and still they still turn a blind eye on us and it's very disappointing actually," said Aisha Majdoub, a sophomore at Galileo High School and a leader for the Muslim Student Association. "They need to first understand what it feels like for us to have to go to school, to have no water, no school, have homework, participate in classes, still keep up with everything that you do pre-Ramadan."

Majdoub said there is a significant Muslim population at her school so she feels that the administration does a good job of accommodating some of the unique challenges of her faith, but hears that the situation isn't the same at other schools in the district.

 Increasing awareness about her culture and religion throughout SFUSD would help her community and getting Eid recognized is one of the first major steps she and others have pursued locally. 

The Arab Resource & Organizing Center -- AROC -- has worked on the issue for two years trying to get holidays recognized and felt they made progress with a resolution passed by the board of education last August.

SFUSD said the resolution calls on the superintendent to share recommendations for how the district could recognize culturally significant holidays. 

But Hage said that the board has not made enough progress on the issue and should match the recognition other holidays have received more recently or for decades on the academic calendar, like Christmas always occurring during winter break. A point one of the members of the board acknowledged when explaining some of the concerns. 

"It's really important for us as a district and a city to celebrate culture but I would also say it's also important for us not to celebrate religion," Kevine Boggess said at a meeting last fall.

Boggess is commissioner on the board of education who now serves as president. 

"Not every group is going to be able to have a holiday and have time off so what does it actually mean to see folks, be inclusive of folks, if we're not able to give everyone kind of the same processes."

District leaders also explained in past board meetings that the requirement for enough days of instruction could mean a change in when the school year starts or ends with more holidays added to the calendar.

 Even one or two more holidays could require an earlier first day of school or push back the last day to even later in the year.

 There could also be an operational cost depending on the impact on the schedule for employees. SFUSD says that 180 days of instruction are required by state law and the agreement with the union mandates 184 working days for teachers. 

The school district has tried to improve awareness of religious beliefs and customs by providing staff with a calendar so they know what holidays some of their students may be celebrating at home.

 SFUSD has also started to develop a process for which it could consider adding new religious holidays to an academic calendar. Students say they've learned a lot by getting involved in the effort to have Eid recognized by the district and it has only strengthened their devotion. 

"I definitely would say they make it more difficult to, you know, practice my faith," Majdoub said. "This is a hardship that we have stumped upon, and so eventually we will have ease, we just have to keep fighting for it and one day we will have our victory."

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