Montgomery County school leaders to discuss closing for Muslim holidays

When Montgomery County Council member George L. Leventhal sent a letter to school leaders late last month asking for schools to be closed on two Muslim holidays, he cited the county’s significant Muslim population and religious fairness.

But school systems in the state cannot declare days off — in this case, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr — solely because they are religious holidays, no matter population demographics, said Rochelle Eisenberg, of Towson-based Pessin Katz Law P.A., a lawyer who specializes in education and employment law.

Leventhal (D-At Large) asked Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr and Board of Education President Shirley Brandman in his letter to consider fairness, respect and inclusion.

Dana Tofig, a schools spokesman, said the board would consider Leventhal’s request.

County schools are closed on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas Eve and Christmas, Good Friday, the day after Easter and other nonreligious holidays.

State law requires the Christian holiday closures. The county school system requires the Jewish high holy day closures.

No school systems in the Washington area take days off for Muslim holidays, but some school systems across the country have decided to, such as in Cambridge, Mass., Burlington, Vt., Dearborn, Mich., and Trenton, N.J.