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Washington Bill Would Excuse Religious Students During Holidays

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Students would be able to take up to two days off per year for religious holidays under a proposal in Olympia. A hearing is scheduled Monday on a bill that would benefit Muslim students celebrating Ramadan.

State Sen. Bob Hasegawa represents Tukwila, Wash. He describes it as a “one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse districts” around. One complaint he has been hearing, especially from Muslim parents, is that some religious holidays are not built into the school calendar. For example, the first day of Ramadan, which changes from year to year. Many of these parents want to keep their children home from school on that day.

But, Hasegawa says current attendance policies are too rigid to let that happen.

“Teachers have been totally unwilling to say, reschedule tests or they’ll count them absent when they are in good faith, practicing their own religions.”

Washington school districts receive state money based on their monthly attendance rates. Under this bill, the schools would not be penalized for students missing class for religious holidays.

On the Web:

SB 5173: Religious holiday absences - Washington Legislature