Skip to main content

News

Religious Observance
Posted 6/24/19

Dear NMUSD community members and families,

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) has initiated a concerted effort to clarify the religious observance rights of students throughout our district. It is the intent of State laws and NMUSD Board Policies that students may not be negatively impacted or punished for the observance of a religious holiday or activity. To that end, principals have been asked to share a summary of relevant laws and policies with all employees. These apply to all regular and routine classroom activities as well as practices for athletics, rehearsals for theater productions, concerts and co-curricular activities, to name a few.   

The document contains the following legal references:

Relevant Education Law and District Board Policies:

  • Students Absences

An absence due to a religious observance or to participate in religious activities is considered an excused absence.

Education Code 489205 and Board Policy 5113 state:

A pupil shall be excused from school when the absence is for justifiable personal reasons such as observance of a holiday or ceremony of the pupil’s religion, attendance at religious retreats…”

             Education Code 46014 and Board Policy 5113 state:

“Pupils, with the written consent of their parents or guardians, may be excused from instruction in order to participate in religious exercises…”

  • Makeup Work

If a student has an excused absence due to religious observance or activity, Board Policy 6154, 5113, and Education Code 48205 requires the following related make-up work:

“Students who miss work because of an excused absence shall be given the opportunity to complete all assignments and tests that can be reasonably provided.”

“As determined by the teacher, the assignments and tests shall be reasonably equivalent to, but not necessarily identical to, the assignments and tests missed during the absence.”

“Students shall receive full credit for work satisfactorily completed within a reasonable time period.”

 

Calendar Planning and Avoiding Conflicts:

Administrative Regulation 6141.2 states:

Staff shall make every effort to schedule one-time events, such as examinations, school-sponsored trips, special laboratories, picture taking days, and class parties, to minimize conflicts with major religious holidays of all faiths.”

The holidays listed below are the major religious holidays within the faith that may pose a conflict for students. I think it’s important to specify this so it is not implied that these are all of the religious holidays.

  • Jewish Holidays

All Jewish holidays start in the evening. Students are not available for after school sports/activities starting the day before the holiday is listed on the calendar and remain unavailable for school/activities until the morning after the holiday ends.  The dates of the Jewish holiday observance change every year. 

For the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Rosh Hashana – Students who observe this holiday are unavailable starting the afternoon of Sunday, September 29, 2019 through the entire day and night of Monday, September 30, 2019, returning Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

  • Yom Kippur – Students who observe this holiday are unavailable beginning after school on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 through the entire day and night of Wednesday October 9, 2019, returning Thursday, October 10, 2019.

  • Passover – Students who observe this holiday are unavailable after school on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 through that evening.  Sports and activities will be permitted on Thursday, April 9, 2020. 

  • Islamic Holidays

Islamic holidays are observed by Muslims and start in the evening. Therefore, students are not available for activities starting in the afternoon the day before the holiday is listed on the calendar and remain unavailable until the morning after the holiday ends. Dates of the Islamic holiday observances change every year.

For the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Ramadan – Students who observe this holiday fast (no food and no liquids) during daylight hours for 30 days.  Allow students to study in the library or elsewhere during lunch. Monitor students for overheating or dehydration in excessively hot weather. In 2020 Ramadan will start on Friday, April 24, 2020

  • Eid al-Fitr – Students who observe this holiday attend early morning prayers on May 24, 2020.

  • Eid al-Adha – Students who observe this holiday are unavailable on July 31, 2020. 

  • Christian Holidays

For the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Ash Wednesday – Students who observe this holiday are allowed to have ash on their forehead during the school day.  Ash Wednesday will be on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

  • Good Friday – Students who observe this holiday may attend a religious service during the school day. Good Friday will be on Friday, April 10, 2020.

All principals and key staff have been provided this information. Please contact your site administrator for questions or clarification. We value and appreciate our diverse community and hope you enjoy some wonderful family time this summer.

Thank you,

Dr. Fred Navarro, Superintendent