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SF school district may move back spring break next year for Eid holiday

A crowd of Ulloa Elementary School students and parents protest against the reassignment of Carol Fong, the principal at Ulloa Elementary School, at the SFUSD District headquarters on June 28, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

San Francisco students' spring break may be moved back next year to accommodate the Eid holiday, the San Francisco Board of Education voted Tuesday.  

During their weekly meeting, board commissioners authorized San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Matt Wayne to push back the 2024 spring break so Muslim students can observe the holiday, which will likely fall on April 9 or 10.

The decision came after the school board reversed a resolution that would have declared Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as holidays in the 2022-2023 calendar year, which prompted outcry from students and their families who celebrate those holidays. The board said it needed to further analyze how to appropriately recognize religious and cultural customs.

At least 100 students, family members and interfaith leaders attended Tuesday's meeting to demand action from the board, stating that the board's reversal was made in response to "racist" threats of litigation.

In August, the board was hit with a litigation warning from Paul Scott, the same lawyer who sued the district for its plan to rename some schools. Scott alleged that the holiday recognition was favoring one religion over others.

At the meeting, board members like Commissioner Matt Alexander acknowledged that their choice to reverse the holiday recognition was in response to the lawsuit threats.

Activists said they support the calendar change, but they do not plan to stop the momentum until the board brings back its initial decision to make the Eid holidays officially recognized.  

Now advocates are issuing their own threats of litigation—Washington, D.C.-based Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and San Francisco's Arab Resource and Organizing Center issued a notification to the district in March that they will pursue legal action if the Eid resolution is not brought back.

On Monday, over 30 interfaith leaders submitted a letter to the school district urging it to follow through with its commitment. Over 2,500 emails sent to the district echoed the same sentiments. 

"San Francisco Unified School District made a commitment to Arab and Muslim students when they passed the Eid resolution last year," stated Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. "Tonight, the community showed up in force and demonstrated our power."

After the board's Tuesday decision, community members left the meeting chanting "we'll be back."  

"We will need to see the district implement Eid Resolution before we can see the harm done to our families begin to heal." said Kiswani. "Until then, we will be back to fight for the dignity of our students to be respected in SFUSD."

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