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CAIR-LA Assists Jewish Student Penalized for Missing Exam on Religious Holiday

cair ca logoMuslim civil rights group convinces school to accommodate holidays for students of all faiths

(ANAHEIM, CA, 4/20/16) – The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed the decision of a graduate pharmacy school in Los Angeles to allow students to observe their religious holiday without being penalized.

CAIR-LA’s legal department recently assisted a Jewish grad student in her second year of pharmacy school who was penalized for missing an exam on a religious holiday.

That student requested a religious holiday exemption prior to the start of the semester to observe two Jewish holidays, both of which fell on exam days. The first exam day fell on Yom Kippur and the makeup exam was scheduled on Sukkot.

Under the school’s policy, students are not allowed excused absences for religious holidays and missing an exam date results in a grade reduction. Despite her stellar academic record, the student received a letter placing her on academic probation, was required to attend an extended course and to take the make-up exam. After finishing the course and the make-up exam, she was given the grade reduction despite a high score.

CAIR-LA worked with the school to revise the policy and to seek a resolution that would reverse the student’s grade to the score she earned, eliminate the discriminatory policy and excuse religious holiday absences without penalizing students.  

By assisting the Jewish student, CAIR-LA was also able to convince the school to accommodate holidays for students of all faiths.

“We thank school officials for ultimately recognizing the importance of religious observances for students of all faiths,†said CAIR-LA Attorney Yalda Satar. “We appreciate the school’s patience and cooperation in revising the policy so that it does not infringe on the right of students to free exercise of their religion. 

She added that this case could serve as a template for campuses across our country to embrace diversity.

The school has released a calendar for the 2016-2017 academic year, which recognizes all major religious holidays including accommodation for Muslim students observing Eid.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad at (714) 776-1847

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