The school district in Cranston, Rhode Island is back in the news over a religious battle (long after Jessica Ahlquist graduated).
This time, the teachers’ contract allowed them to take a day off of work for a religious holiday… as long as their faith required them to attend religious services that day. So Rosh Hashanah? Fine. Good Friday? Not so much.
And there’s the problem:
About 200 teachers contacted the union to report that they were being prevented from taking the day off [on Good Friday], although they had provided more than the contractually required 24 hours’ notice, said Liz Larkin, president of the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance.
But [teachers’ union attorney Kevin] Daley emphasized that the purpose of the lawsuit isn’t to reinstate the holidays.
“We’re asking that my clients be permitted to exercise their contractual rights by taking these religious observation days,” he said.
I find it hard to believe that all 200 teachers actually want the day off; it’s likely they’re just piling on to make a point. And it’s not a bad one, even though it would cause a hell of a lot of chaos in the schools. (Good luck finding that many substitutes in one day.)
But this is what happens when a district treats religions differently.
The problem could easily be solved by just giving teachers the ability to take one or two personal days off each year (barring certain blackout dates), no questions asked. If you use it for a religious holiday, fine. If you want to watch all the March Madness games on a particular day, fine.
When administrators try to decide which religious holidays deserve special privileges, this is bound to happen.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)