Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough schools must stop employees from undermining secular calendar

Headline: School Board keeps religion out of school calendar

No one smote by lightning as result

With a sensible vote this week that again made Good Friday a school day and not a day-off-at-the-beach, the Hillsborough County School Board got one step closer to ending a mess that once embarrassed us all the way to Bill O'Reilly.

But the board also learned of a disturbing problem from within: students being told not to come to school on Good Friday last year even though it was officially a school day — told by some of the system's own bus drivers and teachers.

Sabotage, anyone?

But back to that in a minute. First we get to bask in the marked lack of smoting.

The battle began a few years back in talk of which religious holidays should or shouldn't be school days off, including a Muslim holiday. In the backlash over the very idea came discussion on making the calendar secular, or without religious holidays.

Good Friday became a point of contention. Many use it as a driving day for Easter weekend, or for a day at the beach or mall. Heck, other school districts managed to hold school on Good Friday without much trouble. And students can always take off religious holidays without penalty.

Then there's that interesting concept of a calendar being equal for all religions.

Not to mention the whole separation of church and state thing.

So the board, unaware of the fire and brimstone sure to follow, voted to remove religious holidays, including Good Friday, Yom Kippur and the all-important Monday-after-Easter, and no, Christmas was not affected.

A couple of then-county commissioners — bet you can guess which ones — decried our godlessness all the way to national TV. I'm not sure there were actually predictions of smoting, but it was certainly implied.

So a bullied School Board reversed itself, and later tried to right the course, again attempting a non-religious calendar last year. (They got a breather this year since Good Friday fell on spring break).

Little did they know of the potential trouble from within.

Forty percent of bus drivers took the day off, causing lots of routes to be cancelled, and nearly 60 percent of students didn't show.

At their meeting this week, school officials talked about reports that their own teachers and bus drivers were telling students that it was perfectly okay not to show up.

Officials vowed to make it clear to school employees that this would be a workday and a school day, and everyone will be expected to act accordingly.

Then they voted to do the right thing and try it again.

Actually, it was pretty routine, compared to the controversy of years past.

A rabbi or two showed up to courteously request a calendar that treats all religions equally, a couple of other people disagreed. Then a quick vote, with only board member Jennifer Faliero predictably dissenting.

Done, sans smoting.

This time around, however, school officials need to affirmatively take those aforementioned steps to keep their decision from being undermined from within.

They need to have zero tolerance for the wink-and-nod and outright sabotage, with a clear message from the top that this will be an orderly, ordinary school day like any other.

And no one gets to smote.

Hillsborough schools must stop employees from undermining secular calendar 05/22/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 10:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology


    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  2. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  3. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year


    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  4. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'


    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. []
  5. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]