FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) – A public meeting was held Monday night to discuss a recent school board decision to remove the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, from the Farmington schools calendar next year.
The board based its decision on attendance concerns and the length of the school year calendar.
The Farmington school board voted to reinstate two Jewish holidays after pushback from the community.
The vote was held at a meeting on Monday night at Irving A. Robbins Middle School. The auditorium was packed with families and students conceded about the board’s original decision.
At a November 14 board meeting, the board voted to remove Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as school holidays. They also decided to not allow students a day off for Diwali. Indian families had been fighting for the holiday for months.
“All the other neighboring towns where there is a less Indian population have already given a holiday for Diwali but somehow Farmington where there is a large Indian population, we are still contesting and debating for no reason,” said Richa Gupta, a parent of two children in the district.
“[It is] a tradition and culture that has been alive for 5,000 years. So we’re asking to give us a day so that we can celebrate together,” said Suraj Kurtakoti, a parent.
The school board based its original decision on attendance concerns and the fear that more holidays would lead to an extended school year.
After weeks of pushback from the community, the board voted to overturn their decision to remove the Jewish holidays.
“We are thrilled that the school board is now announcing that they are going to be changing that policy as it relates to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We continue to work with and will work with the Hindu community and the school board to make sure that Diwali is included as well,” said David Waren, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.
As for Diwali, the board says it will not be a school holiday because it falls on a Sunday next school year. But board members said they are forming a committee to discuss the matter in future school years.
Students say they are committed to making sure the district recognizes Diwali as a school holiday.
“Every single student should be represented no matter what. Although it might not be the easiest to ask for every single holiday off, I think just having Diwali off would be a great first step in the right direction for all students to feel represented in the school and throughout Farmington,” said Ruthvika Kumbum, a Farmington High School Senior.