Quick Facts on 2015-2016 School Calendar

November 12, 2014
On November 11, 2014, the Montgomery County Board of Education made the decision to remove references to religious holidays from the 2015-2016 calendar. This is similar to what is done in many other districts in the region and across the country, including Baltimore City, Loudon CountyFairfax County and others.

This Board action
DOES NOT CHANGE the days that students have off—students and teachers will still be off on Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 14) and Yom Kippur (September 23) next school year. All schools and offices will also be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas (December 24 and 25), the Friday before Easter (March 25, 2016) and the Monday after Easter (March 28, 2016), which are all state public school holidays. However those holidays themselves will not be named on the posted school calendar.

The change was made by the Board to recognize that the decision to close schools must—under federal and state law—be made for a secular or operational reason, such as high absenteeism of students and/or staff.  MCPS cannot close for religious reasons.

This was affirmed in a 1999
U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Koenick vs. Felton), which involved Montgomery County Public Schools, as well as a decision by the 2005 Maryland State Board of Education, ADC Baltimore v. Baltimore County Board of Education.

MCPS is an extremely diverse county and our students and staff celebrate a wide variety of religious and cultural holidays. While the operational impact of some holidays may not rise to the level of requiring us to close school, we do respect the rights of students and staff to celebrate those holidays.

The Board of Education has made a commitment to develop criteria and guidance and work with the community to ensure there is a fair and equitable process for determining when it is appropriate for MCPS to close for operational reasons.

Students who miss school to celebrate a holiday for which MCPS is not closed are granted an excused absence and are given an opportunity to make up any work. Major religious holidays on which MCPS schools are opened, such Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Lunar New Year, are designated “no testing days” districtwide. Teachers are encouraged not have major tests or major project deadlines on such days.  

A very inclusive list of religious holidays is published in the Comprehensive calendar, which is given to all MCPS staff (see page 34).

<<Back to browse