Hillsborough School Board Reverses Decision

November 9, 2005

Source: St. Petersburg Times


On November 9, 2005 the St. Petersburg Times reported, "After listening to passionate speeches about God, country, children and tradition, the Hillsborough School Board restored several religious holidays to next year's school calendar, reversing a 2-week-old decision that garnered national attention. By a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the board adopted a school calendar similar to the existing one that gives children days off on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Christian Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. After 24 people spoke, most of them in favor of religious holidays, board members embraced superintendent MaryEllen Elia's recommendation to restore them to the calendar and study the issue further. A desire to focus on education rather than the controversy over the calendar was the stated reason for the board's about-face. Four of the seven board members changed their opinion on the holidays, saying many people misunderstood what they were trying to do... Board members and administrators said the secular calendar [adopted two weeks ago], which resembled the one in place for years in Pinellas County and dozens of school systems around the nation, treated all faiths the same and more clearly separated church and state. They said children could take days off for religious observances without being penalized."