Bernards School Board to Further Discuss Diwali as Holiday [POLL]
Two more residents ask Board of Education on Monday to consider adding Diwali as a holiday to a future school calendar.
In response to further urging by two parents at Monday's Board of Education meeting, School Board President Susan Carlsson said a board subcommittee soon will take a closer look at the idea.
"This issue has been referred to the [board] policy committee, that will be discussing it soon," Carlsson said in response to the issue, which had been raised in December when board members had approved the 2014-15 school year calendar.
Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger said at that time that the policy committee could consider the proposal during January, and get back to the full board in late January or in February with a report.
Dozens of residents from Bernards Township's Asian community had attended the Dec. 19 meeting to asked that the first day of the festival of Diwali, an annual holiday that begins each October to November, be added as a day off from school in the 2014-15 calendar.
School officials then said that although the future calendar was approved that night, it could be later amended.
As it stands now, students in the school district can request an excused absence for a religious holiday celebrated by their family.
However, Ashish Haruray, one of the parents to address the board on Monday, said that under the current arrangement, students still will have homework and would miss school activities during the celebration. "Unless there is a holiday, they really wouldn't be able to enjoy time with their family," he said.
Diwali is celebrated over five days, but the first day can be filled with many activities both at home, and at a temple, another speaker said. Not only Hindus, but additional religious groups, including Buddhists and others, celebrate Diwali, he noted.
"Diwali is important to Indians, and all of the Indian community," Deepak Kapadia, a parent who presented the school board with a petition asking that the district recognize Diwali on an upcoming school calendar for 2014-15, said in December.
Goger on Dec. 20 that the petition had been received with 78 signatures.
The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Jan. 23, Carlsson said at the end of Monday's meeting. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the William Annin Middle School,