City Council recommends adding Muslim holidays to school year

The City Council passed a resolution today calling on Mayor Bloomberg to add two Muslim holidays to the school year, a proposal the mayor has repeatedly opposed.

For over a year, a coalition of Muslim New Yorkers has lobbied the Department of Education to change its policy. The mayor has said he does not favor including the two holidays because it would shorten the school year and could lead other religious groups to demand that their holidays be included as well.

Amy Sugimori, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said the group would continue to lobby the mayor “to come up with a solution that works for everybody,” she said, adding that she didn’t expect the policy to change in the upcoming school year.

Councilman Robert Jackson, who chairs the Education Committee, is Muslim and supports the change in policy.

“Having to choose whether to send your children to school on your highest, holiest holidays where there may be an exam or stuff like that, it’s a clash situation and it should not have to happen,” Jackson told Politicker.

He said the mayor was “not being open-minded, he’s not being flexible, he’s not being inclusive.”

The two holidays are Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which is considered the most important Muslim holiday.

Currently, students who miss school in observance of the two holidays are marked as having an excused absence. Roughly 10 percent of the city’s schoolchildren are Muslim, according to a 2008 study conducted by Columbia University’s Teachers College.

The resolution, which is non-binding, does not compel the DOE to change the policy.