OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS ASSOCIATED WITH RELIGION
The Everett Public Schools district includes students from many religious belief systems, as well as students who do not believe in religion. The District is committed to providing an inclusive environment where diversity is acknowledged and appreciated.
The District respects the right of parents to educate their children in spiritual and religious matters, which includes the celebration of religious holidays. Parents may, in writing, excuse their students from school for religious holidays. Such absences will be logged as excused absences. All students will be required to make up material covered and assigned during an excused absence from school. Such work shall be made up at the student’s initiative without loss of credit following their return to school after absence.
DEVELOPMENT, EVALUATION AND MODIFICATION
OF AN INTEGRATED MULTI-CULTURAL CURRICULUM
The District is committed to an integrated multicultural curriculum. Classrooms should reflect a climate where cultural, religious, and non-religious differences are respected and self-expression is encouraged. Constant adaptation and development of the curriculum is necessary if the District is to meet the needs if the diverse population of students in its schools. The School Committee expects its faculty and administration to regularly evaluate the education program and to recommend modifications of practice and changes in curriculum content as well as the addition or deletion of courses to the instructional program.
The School Committee will establish a process by which curriculum, instructional resources and material for programs shall be reviewed. An evaluation of the curriculum and its effectiveness will be made periodically and reported to the Committee by the Superintendent
LEGAL REF.: M.G.L. 69:1E, 603 CMR 26:05
SCHOOL OBSERVANCE OF, AND TEACHING ABOUT, MAJOR STATE AND FEDERAL HOLIDAYS
The District will observe several holidays throughout the year. Such holidays shall be determined by the School Committee.
While it is recognized that many activities are initiated with the approach of major holidays in order to capitalize on the readiness and interest that is generated at these times, it should be understood that such occasions frequently have religious underpinnings, and care should be taken to relate only to secular aspects of these holidays. The observance of religious holidays is not the responsibility of the public schools. Music programs given at times close to religious holidays should not use religious aspects of these holidays as the underlying motive or theme. If a holiday has a religious undertone, it must be explained within a historical and educational context. Holiday activities should foster appreciation of diversity, and none of the activities should require students to celebrate the holiday, express assent to a particular belief system, or participate in ceremonies traditionally performed in religious communities. Activities should be based on cultural pluralism rather than on the assumption that all students share similar religious beliefs or have similar knowledge or cultural traditions. Activities should also reflect a balance of cultural diversity and secular educational purpose and avoid excessive entanglement with religion.
The above statements should not be interpreted to preclude the factual and objective teaching about religious, religious holidays, and religious differences. Such instruction will be permitted in the schools since insights in this area can enhance the mutual understanding needed by all the people in a pluralistic society. Holidays associated with religion that have cultural significance may be taught in the classroom as part of an integrated multicultural curriculum. Any school activity that relates to holidays associated with religion shall have a secular educational purpose, shall not advance or inhibit religion and shall avoid excessive entanglement with religion.
SELECTION OF INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS
The task of selecting instructional materials for programs will be delegated to the professional staff of the school system. Any selected instructional programs and materials must fit within the District’s goal of providing students with an integrated multicultural curriculum. As such, instructional materials must satisfy the following criteria:
1. They must present balanced views of international, national, and local issues and problems of the past, present and future.
2. They must provide materials that stimulate growth in factual knowledge, literary appreciation, aesthetic and ethical values.
3. They must help students develop abilities in critical reading and thinking.
4. They must help develop and foster appreciation of cultural diversity and development in the United States and throughout the world.
5. They must provide for all students an effective basic education that does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, physical disabilities or sexual orientation.
6. They must allow sufficient flexibility for meeting the special needs of individual students and groups of students.
LEGAL REFS.: M.G.L. 30B:7; 71:48; 71:49: 71:50
603 CMR 26.00