A Lodi mom is starting a petition to add Eid al-Fitr to California’s list of holidays that would automatically excuse a child from school. The 24-hour Muslim holiday falls after 30 days of fasting during daylight to observe Ramadan each year, and this year will fall on Aug. 7 and 8 — in the first week of the 2013-14 school year.
Veronica Aziz lives near Blakely Park with her husband and three sons. She and her family are Muslim and attend the Lodi Mosque. Growing up, she remembers missing a day of school each year for the family gathering and prayers.
Does that mosque sound familiar? We posted on it once before, Lodi Mosque Imam’s US born son tells FBI he went abroad for Al Qaeda training “to learn to kill Americans”.
“We just didn’t go to school. Our community was so small that if we missed a day it didn’t matter,” said Aziz. But her children don’t like to miss school. They tell their mother if they miss one day they will fall behind.
“They get upset,” she said. “I want to be able to tell them not to worry.”
The Lodi Unified School District allows children to take the day off as an excused absence, according to California education code. This differs from an unexcused absence, which means a child cannot make up any homework assignments or tests from that day — but it still counts as an absence.
Aziz would like the district to allow students of all faiths to miss school for religious holidays without counting it as an absence.
At Borchardt Elementary School, where 10 to 15 percent of the children come from Muslim families, principal Janis Morehead and the teachers put a major emphasis on perfect attendance. Those who make it through a full semester without missing a day — even for an excused absence — get ice cream at lunch just before the winter or summer break.
10 to 15 percent?
The incentive makes sense for the school. It’s a simple prize, but high daily attendance keeps money flowing into school coffers.
Aziz said it’s not about a scoop of ice cream. It’s about teaching her kids that school and their religious faith are equally important.
Aziz is not sure how far a petition would go. But she is willing to try.
“I don’t want to ask the question, ‘Should I let you go to school that day?’” she said. “There would be peace of mind for us, and I could tell my children, ‘Tomorrow is our day.’”
Rather than teaching her kids that Islam is important to her (the kids apparently don’t care at this age) she’d rather force the entire school and all kids regardless of their religion to be out of school that day. That’s how they roll.