LEWISTON — The Lewiston School Committee voted 7-1 Monday to table the discussion on whether two Jewish holidays should remain as no-school days on the school calendar.

According to Ward 6 representative Ronald Potvin, who was the only member to vote in opposition, Superintendent Jake Langlais presented a four-year cumulative data analysis of absences at the start of the discussion. The analysis showed that 30% of students between 2016 and 2019 were absent for the Muslim celebration of Eid, which was approved for the school calendar in January, but only 5% were absent for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the two Jewish holidays.

Langlais pointed to the data as one reason the committee should vote to remove the Jewish holidays. This was the third time in the past month the committee debated this topic.

The committee ultimately voted to table the discussion and allow Langlais more time to create a proposal.

As it stands, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, will remain on the school calendar.

Nearly a month ago, Langlais recommended that the committee vote to remove the two holidays from future school calendars.

“For me, this has not been about any kind of secular conversation or any kind of particular denomination or belief or faith,” Langlais said at the Monday meeting. “For me, this has been about continuity of school.”

Both of the holidays traditionally fall on different days in September or October, depending on the Jewish calendar.

Initially, the committee voted 5-4 to accept Langlais’ recommendation and remove the holidays. But, a week later, Potvin asked the committee to reconsider his decision-making vote, explaining he did not realize the discussion was focused solely on the two Jewish holidays.

Potvin believes the school should only recognize secular holidays. He is concerned the school could face a discriminatory practice complaint if the school removes some, but not all, religious holidays from the school calendar.

However, other committee members disagree. Chairwoman Megan Parks said she does not support removing either the Jewish or Muslim holidays, believing such a move would be “backtracking.”

It is unclear when the holidays will be discussed again.


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