For the first time this year, the Cranston Rhode Island school committee eliminated Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Good Friday as school holidays. Instead, it negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that allows teachers to take up to two days off each school year if they are required to attend religious services during the school day.
AP reports that on Monday the union filed suit because the school system has denied requests from some 200 teachers to take Good Friday off, even though they allowed teachers who requested it to take Rosh Hashanah off last fall. School Superintendent Judith Lundsten says that the Good Friday requests are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement because Good Friday does not require attendance at religious services during school hours. According to the Cranston Patch, the suit claims that the discriminatory denial of religious leave here is a breach of the collective bargaining agreement and a violation of the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
The reasoning of the school committee is flawed. Good Friday is properly a full day of fasting and prayer. It may or may not involve a church service, but it does involve fasting, prayer and quiet contemplation of the Lord's Sacrifice. These activities cannot be done in the context of a routine work day.