North Brunswick, NJ, schools to add day off for Muslim holiday
🔺 North Brunswick will give students the day off for Eid al-Fitr
🔺 A growing number of districts are embracing more diverse school holidays
🔺 New Jersey allows over 150 religious holidays as excused absences
Students and staff in North Brunswick public schools will have an additional day off this month.
The North Brunswick Board of Education has approved using an unused snow day to recognize the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.
Board members has also approved including the holiday going forward, and it has already been added to the school calendar for next year.
North Brunswick School Superintendent Janet Ciarrocca said it was "an easy decision" after taking feedback from parents and community members.
A growing number of New Jersey school districts have been adding Muslim Eid holidays or Diwali to school calendars to reflect the diverse student body.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations New Jersey (CAIR-NJ) currently lists 58 school districts in 12 counties that have added Eid holidays to their school calendars.
CAIR-NJ has been urging more districts to adopt the Eid holiday as an official school holiday.
"School districts that have a significant number of Muslims should close for the top Muslim holidays," the group writes on their website, "Which for recent years has only landed once outside of summer and would only be two days in the academic year for the future."
Even if it not an 'official' school holiday, the New Jersey Department of Education requires districts to allow students to miss school in celebration of Eid. It is treated as an excused absence.
The state lists 165 religious holidays that schools must treat as escaped absences. These include dozens of Muslim, Christian, Islam, Jewish and Sikh holidays.
New Jersey also lists several less widely celebrated holidays, including: The Pagan/Wiccan holiday of Mabon on Sept. 23, which celebrates the autumnal equinox, and L. Ron Hubbard's Birthday on March 13, which is celebrated by the Church of Scientology.
Which days off students and staff get during the course of a school year has become an increasingly controversial subject.
Districts are required by state law to provide 180-days of instruction. As communities become more diverse, finding room to accommodate all requested holidays is a delicate balancing act.
In Randolph, the school district was met with angry protests when they dropped one of two days typically given for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.
Other districts have eliminated a day off for Columbus Day, while adding days off for Eid, Lunar New Year and Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S.
According to CAIR-NJ, the list below includes all of the NJ districts that have currently added Eid to their school calendars:
⬛ Atlantic County
⬛ Bergen County
⬛ Burlington County
⬛ Essex County
⬛ Hudson County
⬛ Mercer County
West Windsor & Plainsboro
⬛ Middlesex County
Sayreville & Parlin
South Orange & Maplewood
⬛ Monmouth County
⬛ Morris County
⬛ Passiac County
⬛ Union County
Scotch Plains & Fanwood
Up or down? Average property tax changes in NJ in 2022
How much your school district gets under Murphy's proposed 2024 budget
Weird things NJ taxes - and some they don't
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.