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Baltimore County schools to stay closed on Jewish holidays

Board also adjusts calendar for Muslim holiday
Posted at 11:10 PM, Nov 07, 2017

The Baltimore County Board of Education has voted to keep schools closed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

A proposal considered Tuesday night would have opened schools on Jewish holidays for the first time in over 20 years. Instead, other adjustments will be made including shortening Spring Break.

School systems have been adjusting calendars across the state following new requirements to start school after Labor Day and end by June 15th.

Board member David Uhlfelder argued that County schools would have to hire too many substitute teachers and nurses to accommodate all of the absences on Jewish holidays.

"If you believe the money is important, then you keep schools closed," he said.

The decision did not come without debate. Board member Stephen Verch questioned how the system knows how many employees are Jewish, when it is illegal to ask on an application. It's a question Baltimore County's Muslim community has been asking for years.

"The school system should not really rely on antidotes, it should rely on objective verifiable data," said Dr. Bash Pharoan, who argues for schools closing on an equal number of Jewish and Muslim holidays.

In an additional surprise amendment, the board also voted to move an administrative leave day to June 5th, closing schools during the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Fitr.