Personal Days as Religious Holidays?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    My new school district was recently in contract negotiations. I emailed the teacher association to find out what the new contract would be. I am glad that we will receive a 2.5% raise next year so my salary is a bit higher than I thought it would be.

    However, the new requirement added to the contract is that personal days be used as religious holidays. If I am not religious, does that mean that I do not get to use any personal days? I haven't heard of this before so I am a little bit confused. If I need to take a day off, should I just use a sick day?
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Just say you’re going to take a religious holiday. Shouldn’t that put you in the clear?

    Also, the Supreme Court just ruled that mandatory union dues are unconstitutional. How do you think that will affect your teacher association?
     
  4. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Are you sure its not the other way around, i.e. taking off for a religious holiday counts as a personal day? That would make much more sense. If you take off for a religious holiday, it must count as one of your personal days. That doesn't mean that your personal days have to be for religious holidays, but that if you take off for a relgiious holiday, it does have to count for a personal day.
     
  5. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    The email said the following...

    "a requirement that personal days be used for religious holidays."

    I guess your interpretation would make sense too!
     
  6. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I guess I could but it seems weird that this is a requirement! What if I need to take off for a wedding or something?

    I don't know much about my district or the association yet so I am not sure.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I would interpret that to mean that religious holidays come out of your personal days.
     
  8. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Ok, that makes so much more sense!! Thank you!
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So it seems one would use a personal day for taking off for a religious holiday. That’s fairly common.
     
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  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Taking off for a wedding would be personal business that can not be taken care of outside contracted hours, hence a PERSONAL day.
     
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  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Depending on the district, most Jewish and Christian religious holidays are already days the school is closed - not all, but the biggies. Other religions are not as widely observed or as high a portion of the student/teacher population, hence using your personal day if you want to observe if.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Me too.
     
  13. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I think that may be regional. I've heard of schools being closed for Jewish holidays in NJ and also in some of the suburbs of Chicago. However, I've never worked in a district where schools closed for Jewish holidays. In the case of someone wanting to take off of work for a Jewish holiday, they were given the day off as a religious day (not a personal day). They still had to do sub plans and the day went on without them, as it would any day they miss work.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I’m in NJ. While many Christian and Jewish holidays we have off, we aren’t off for all of them. Those staff who want to take off for religious holidays that we don’t have off must use personal days.
    In your stated case, Bella, does one show proof of religion or could anyone take off and call it a religious holiday?
     
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  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I can't say with certainty since this has never applied to me personally. However, I am not aware of anyone ever being asked to show proof. I don't think it was something that was abused. I believe that most principals felt like they knew enough about the staff member taking the day off to reasonably conclude that they weren't abusing the system.
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Yeah, I'd assume that policy was to cover X religious holidays missed in the usual flow of the calendar. It sounds it's fair and accommodates the average person. My own religion doesn't have any particular holidays outside the usual biggies that seem to get covered by school vacations, but I've met people who have a minority religion for the region where this would be pretty handy.
     
  17. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I can't help but think if "showing proof of religion" would be crossing a line, so I hope they weren't asking for proof.

    What exactly would you show?
     
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  18. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I've never worked in a school that had Jewish holidays off nor did we get them off school in my home state. FWIW, I've never gotten Good Friday off in this state either, and our spring break is almost never anywhere near Easter. In my hometown all of the schools planned their spring breaks around Easter and Good Friday.
     
  19. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I am glad that I interpreted that incorrectly! :)
     
  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is how it is for us as well; staff wanting to take off for any religious holidays submit a declaration before the start of the school year with the dates they will be absent.
     
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  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    The district administration would have to be crazy to want to interpret it such that only religious holidays justify personal days. It would create a need for religious policing that would open themselves up to all kinds of lawsuits and PR nightmares ("who's the school to say that converting twice in a week is too much? What do you mean a Christian can't celebrate Diwali?" Etc.)

    There are several rules that are commonly accepted for contract interpretation.

    One of these is industry practice. Ours much more common that if one is to take a religious holiday that they use a personal day than that personal days are disallowed unless they are religious. In the case of public schools in particular, the latter interpretation may actually be illegal (since it effectively punishes those who do not believe in a religion).

    This brings us to another rule, contracts are given a legal interpretation of possible -- that is, if there are multiple interpretations and one is legal and the others are not, the legal interpretation will be assumed to be the intended one.

    Thirdly, contracts are generally interpreted against the drafter if there is ambiguity. So if the school district wrote it, it would be interpreted against them out there's a dispute.

    Keep in mind that there could be other documents made during the negotiations which would affect the interpretation (if there are, these are very strong evidence of the correct interpretation and will typically override legal rules of construction like the above).

    Probably the simplest thing to do is ask district administration what they'll require. If they give the interpretation that personal days must be religious holidays, then you'll have to follow up. But I'm being they don't.
     
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  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I like this policy (and no, I don't see it as favoring people who have religious holidays, it's just how it is in a diverse world) though in my area, despite being religious, no one has any particularly exciting religious holidays.

    I still don't understand what Good Friday really is.
     
  23. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    The last Friday of the school year? ;)
    (I kid, I kid...)
     
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  24. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I don't understand the idea of having to show proof to take a personal day for a religious holiday since no one has to show proof as to why they are taking one of their allotted personal days.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I was playing Devil’s advocate. It seems to me this would be written in the contract. X amount of sick days, X amount of personal, and maybe X religious, though I do think in the OP’s case it’s most likely use a personal day if you need a religious day off
     
  26. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    I wonder if it’s really fair that one would have to use a personal day for a religious holiday if their holiday wasn’t observed like the Christmas and Jewish holidays. Christians don’t have to take personal days for many if not all of the major holidays.
     
  27. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It is a very holy day for Christians. It is the Friday before Easter Sunday and remembers the Crucifixion of Jesus. It is traditionally a day of fasting and penance.
     
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  28. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I figured you were. It just made me wonder if a principal did decide to enforce some weird personal/religious day rule how anyone would "prove" it.
     

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