The Philadelphia School District will officially recognize two Islamic holidays. Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., and Superintendent Dr. William Hite announced Tuesday they will add the holidays Eid al-Fitr, celebrated after the month-long observance of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, celebrated at the conclusion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, to the school district’s official holiday calendar.
“Since the start of my term as Mayor, I’ve been committed to working to make the city a more diverse and inclusive place for all,” said Mayor Kenney. “I’m grateful to the stakeholders and leaders that stand with me today to advance inclusion in the many ways that residents practice their faith and religion.”
Councilman Jones introduced a resolution calling for the city and school district to recognize the holidays earlier this year. Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to adopt it.
“William Penn established Philadelphia as a city for religious freedom,” Jones said. “Today we continue our founder’s creed by the recognition of the EIDs for our Islamic community.”
Under the resolution, Philadelphia’s Muslim students will be able to get excused absences for the two holidays. School District officials say they will inform students, parents and staff about the current excused absences policy for students who wish to celebrate the holidays during the 2016-2017 school year. As for the 2017-2018 school year and every year after, the district will present the holiday dates to the School Reform Commission who will vote on whether or not to include them in annual holiday calendars.
“The Philadelphia School District will also engage the respective labor unions in order to adhere to contractual obligations and facilitate logistical assistance,” a city spokesperson wrote.
On Tuesday Mayor Kenny also announced the creation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Cultural Inclusion, a group made up of city agencies, the municipal courts system, the District Attorney’s Office and the School District.
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“The task force will study and produce recommendations regarding the expansion of religious observance days, the education of city management and employees to the religious sensitivities of their coworkers, how the courts and judicial system can better acknowledge religious days, and ways best disseminate information on religious holidays to the public including local businesses and employers," the spokesperson wrote.