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New Haven alderman wants schools to have Muslim holiday off

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NEW HAVEN -- No communities in Connecticut mark the end of Ramadan with a day off from school, but that soon could change.

Presently, New Haven public schools celebrate 12 federal and religious holidays, but a member of New Haven Board of Alders, who is of the Muslim faith, said the school system should add another holiday to recognize the growing Muslim population within New Haven schools.

Last summer, Alderman Hacibey Catalbasoglu presented a resolution to the Board of Education suggesting that Eid al-Fitr, a celebration of one of the two most important Muslim holidays, which is Ramadan, be added to the school calendar. And, while he's feeling good about the prospects, there has been some push back.

"This idea that if you allow one more holiday then what’s stopping us from allowing 20 more holidays of other minority communities," said Catalbasoglu, a Yale senior.

The school system currently recognizes Christian and Jewish holidays. 

As for when there might be some resolution? Perhaps within six months, according to BOE President, Danell Goldson.

"My hope is that we put together a panel of experts on this and that we add some community input," said Goldson on Thursday at City Hall.

Mayor Toni N. Harp is among the members of the BOE.

"It would make some sense for us to consider a Muslim holiday, as well," said Harp. "We’ve got to take some things into consideration."

Among them is making sure the school system meets the state mandated 180 days of school each year.

Alder Catalbasoglu said that as demographics of communities change, it is the town and city leaders responsibility to the reflect that change with discussions like this.

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