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Eugene 4J Discusses Updating Religious Observation Policies

Elizabeth Gabriel

At the latest Eugene 4J school board meeting, members discussed updating the district's religious observation policies. But, board members are struggling to make a decision. 

The request to update these rules largely comes from Jewish parents. They claim their children have missed many school events that were scheduled on religious holidays.

School board member Gordon Lafer says this has affected many students for at least 20 years.

“This is not just a Jewish issue. I have heard from people in the Catholic community about Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, in the Muslim community, from people in the Latino community about Día de Los Reyes—about three Kings day,” said Lafer. 

But school board members are cautious when changing the policies because—by law—public schools must remain secular. Lafer says they should consider some easier solutions.

“Muslim students who were fasting during the month of Ramadan—the school should make opportunities for them if they don't want to be in the cafeteria during the lunch hour, but want to be in the library or something like that,” said Lafer.

The school board is waiting to receive more recommendations from the district before establishing next steps for updating their religious policies. 

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.