Information and News for the People. If You Are Silent, Others Will Speak For You!
By Afaf “Ariashalaara” Muhammad
Emotions were high as parents and members of the community stood before the decision makers of the Jersey City public school board awaiting the final vote on a request that was presented by the Islamic public school community earlier this year during the board’s June 9th community meeting. The request for the closing of public schools in honor of the celebration of Eid al Adha and Eid al-Fitr for 2015, and future years, was solemnly rejected due to the short notice of the request. Board members that were reluctant to reject the community’s request explained that the request was indeed presented prior to the 2015-2016 school year, however, the calendar for the 2015-2016 school year was prepared in May 2015. One board member took responsibility for her own failure to bring forth the request in a timely manner.
As board members explained to the community their position , they brought to light that by law, as per New Jersey State Board of Education’s The List of Religious Holidays Permitting Student Absence from School which states “ …4. Any absence because of a religious holiday must be recorded in the school register or in any group or class attendance record as an excused absence. 5. Such absence must not be recorded on any transcript or application or employment form or on any similar form…”. Many parents and students present argued that these guidelines have not been honored in the past and they have missed important tests, homework assignments, as well as class work; and the fact that just across the Hudson river, New York’s Mayor De Blasio approved school closings for the Eids beginning September 24, 2015 for Eid al-Adha.
Board members expressed that they will further examine the request for the school closings during the Eid celebrations but it will not occur for the September 24, 2015 holy day.
Another topic brought to light was the poor value of nutrition in the Jersey City public and charter schools. The breakfast which consists of high sugar foods, and non cultural and non religious foods served is often rejected by children which the school meal may be their only source of food and/or nutrition. Nutrition plays a huge factor in how a child develops academically and socially. Superintendent Dr. Lyles expressed concern in the matter and will bring attention to this topic.
School board meetings are where the voice of the public school community can be heard and concerns acknowledged by board officials in the public eye. It is important for the parents of public and charter school students to attend these meetings which are held at P.S. #11 in order to ensure their child’s scholastic needs are met in accordance to law, and to bring forth new ideas that will assist the improvement of the Jersey City public school system.