September 13th, 2007 10:56 EST
CLIFFSIDE PARK SCHOOLS TO CLOSE FOR RAMADAN THIS YEAR
Cliffside Park schools will be the first in Bergen County to close for a Muslim holiday this year. NY1's Shawna Ryan spoke to school officials and a Muslim group about the decision and filed the following report.
For the first time ever, Cliffside Park students will not have classes this October 11th.
That's because the school district is the first in Bergen County to observe the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the conclusion to the Islamic holy month of fasting.
"We didn't know that we would be the first, we just felt with changing population this was the right thing to do," said Cliffside Park Superintendent Michael Romagnino.
Only a handful of school districts statewide close for Islamic celebrations, including Paterson and Prospect Park. Romagnino says school districts normally don't close unless a large number of students or staff are likely to be absent.
"We're just not always aware of what other beliefs are and what practices go on out there, and I think we realize now that we have to be more open-minded and realize, again, we are very diverse [with] a lot of different cultures, a lot of different backgrounds and beliefs."
School officials say 100 of the 1,000 students here at Cliffside Park High School actually took off from school last year for the end of Ramadan.
Representatives from the Council of American Islamic Relations say it's about time Muslim holidays were observed, and they hope other school districts follow suit.
"There is a significant Muslim population in the State of New Jersey and we really look forward to other school districts allowing Muslim students to exercise the Islamic faith just like their Christian and Jewish counterparts," said Afsheen Shamsi of the Council for American Islamic Relations.
Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726