Seattle Schools Face Backlash for Advising Students to Eat During Ramadan | About Islam
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Seattle Schools Face Backlash for Advising Students to Eat During Ramadan

Seattle Schools Face Backlash for Advising Students to Eat During Ramadan
Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Seattle’s Central District, March 13, 2019. (Photo by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

SEATTLE – A school principal in Seattle caused a social media firestorm on March 11 by sending an advisory email to parents advising them to exempt their elementary school kids from fasting Ramadan which will coincide this year with their testing days, King5 reports on March 14.

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the email message was sent by Katie May, the principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary of Seattle School District.

The message read: “Please consider the following: Allow your child to eat, or participate in partial day fasting, on testing days. Ensure your child is getting sufficient sleep the night before testing days. Make sure your child is eating prior to coming to school to provide enough energy for the day.”

The CAIR Washington chapter (CAIR-WA) added that the primary school has also sent “a sample letter that says schools will offer morning testing sessions if students observe fasting, and educators will monitor students for fatigue.”

Islamic & Governmental Solutions

According to Islamic Shari’ah, fasting Ramadan is compulsory for adult Muslims who are physically fit and not sick or traveling for a long distance.

Muslim kids who are under the age of puberty are Islamically excused from fasting the holy month. Parents may allow their children to fast for a few hours to train them on fasting Ramadan after their puberty.

Tim Robinson, media relations specialist with Seattle Public Schools, explained school leaders were given two guiding documents.

“One was the email sent to parents. The other, drafted by an internal team including a member who observes Ramadan, explained that some students may fast during the holiday and may have an easier time taking any necessary tests earlier rather than later.”

He continued that: “The district also explained that the school leaders could make a reasonable attempt to honor requests to have testing before the start of Ramadan.”

Masih Fouladi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Washington, explained that for the Muslim families, “the latest email from the school district was part of a worrying pattern. This’s a consistent issue with the Seattle public school system.”

The guidelines of the district advise principals if a parent requests their child be tested before the start of Ramadan, the school can make a “reasonable attempt to honor that request.” However, Robinson said local districts can’t adjust the state’s testing period.


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