Dozens of parents said at an Oak Lawn school board meeting Tuesday night that while they're happy to have a student body of varying religions, they want to keep celebrating what they say are traditional American holidays and customs.
That doesn't mean they aren't open to observing other religions' holidays, the parents told the Ridgeland School District 122 board, which was looking at its policies concerning religious teachings and observances. At issue is whether Christian holidays, such as Christmas, should be celebrated now that Muslim children make up about 30 percent of district pupils.
After meeting for 2 1/2 hours in a closed session, board members decided to keep the district's Christmas and Halloween parties and add a Ramadan celebration.
The debate, which has raged in the community for weeks, was sparked by a parent, Elizabeth Zahdan, who asked that stars and moons be displayed in schools in honor of Ramadan. She was denied and told that schools couldn't partake in religious celebrations.
"I want everyone to be equally acknowledged. I never demanded that no one can celebrate. I never said take Christmas away," Zahdan said at the meeting before the board went into a closed session...
Supt. Tom Smyth said Zahdan raised the issue of fairness.
"This thing has gotten so big that the board needs to know the legalities of the separation of church and state and its policies about teaching religion in school," he said before the meeting. (READ MORE)