ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW) – When presents are under the tree or turkey on the table, it’s a given that Ohio’s public school buildings are empty.
But public schools can’t close for every religious holiday, and one state senator says students should not be penalized for observing those days.
“Every family should know wherever their kid goes to school, whatever district it is, on this side of a neighborhood or that side of a neighborhood or this district, that district, there should be an opportunity to observe your faith tenants.”
Ohio Jewish Communities President & CEO Howie Beigelman, working with Republican Senator Michele Reynolds on Senate Bill 49, known as the ‘Religious Expression Days Act.’; to require each kindergarten through 12 public schools to provide students, teachers and staff with religious accommodations.
The bill would require local school boards to draft “non-exhaustive” lists of religious holidays and excuse students up to three days off each academic year.
Some people in Rocky River reacted to the bill stating, “If they want to express, be a part of their religious beliefs, then yes, they should be able to make up the work.”
“I think it’s a great idea. I don’t see any problem with that at all.”
In addition to excusing absences, teachers would have to provide accommodations for any missed assignments, including tests and accept the absences without question.
Beigelman says parents in his community say the bill is long overdue and crucial for kids…especially those afraid to stand out.
“It’s a chance for us to tell students across Ohio, whatever your faith, whatever your religion, we’re here for you.”
Senate Bill 49 is expected to gain bipartisan support and is like a law that will go into effect for Ohio colleges in April, which gives students up to three days each semester, for religious celebrations.