TAMPA – Good Friday is the only religious holiday recognized in the latest version of Hillsborough’s controversial school calendar.

But the idea of treating Christians differently from Jews and Muslims divided the committee of teachers, parents and school administrators who are making calendar recommendations.

“I think that opens a can of worms,” said Leigh Crosson, a teacher at Bevis Elementary in east Hillsborough, during the committee meeting Tuesday.

It marked a reversal of the group’s stance last fall, when members proposed a calendar recognizing no religious holidays.

Last year, the School Board passed a similarly secular calendar – and came under a firestorm of criticism for being antireligious. Under a national spotlight, the board backpedaled and restored existing Christian and Jewish holidays.

Once again, the School Board has final approval of the calendar for the coming school year – and whether religion belongs in it.

After a narrow committee vote to make Good Friday a school holiday, a Jewish parent made a final request that all major religions be treated equally. His plea failed in a 9-7 vote.

Teachers and parents generally supported his proposal, while school district administrators largely opposed it.

The proposal would have reopened the entire calendar to reconsideration, raising problems for the short fall semester.

“I cannot believe that you have county employees voting not to treat some of the religious holidays of major religions equally,” said Jonathan Ellis, a father of three students and chairman of a Jewish community relations council.


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