Friday, March 12, 2010

New Jersey Board of Education has Wiccan/ Pagan holidays on the agenda for meeting

New Jersey Board of Education has Wiccan/ Pagan holidays on the agenda for meeting

Domestic Witchery ExaminerKris Bradley

The buzz around the internet these days has been on whether or not the New Jersey State Board of Education will be adding the eight Wiccan/Pagan holidays to it's calendar at their March 17th meeting. The board's calendar includes a list of holidays that they have approved as possible excused absences for students around the state.

One quote that's been frequently discussed: “I just got a call from the NJ Board of Education. They are adding 8 Wiccan/Pagan holidays to the “official” BoE calendar! They just wanted to double check the dates with me, in response to my letter to them in December. They said it will be adopted as official policy next month at the March BoE meeting!! our holidays plus a couple Jewish ones they apparently missed.” This quote comes from Amie Tolomeo from Sicklerville, New Jersey. Tolomeo was contacted by a parent, Elena Ottinger of Pennsville, New Jersey, in 2009 for help when Ottinger's child was denied an excused absence from school for the Wiccan holiday, Yule.

Tolomeo referred Ottinger to the ACLU and together they wrote letters to the NJ BOE. As more people heard about the matter, more letters were written. Tolomeo approached the Board of Education as a NJ Pagan minister and representative of the Pagan Pride Project. Leaving her name and number, she stated that she was sure that it "wasn't their intention to omit" the dates and asked that they "please consider" add the dates to their calendar. She also let them know she could be contacted if the board needed more information and that she'd be willing to give a presentation if it were needed.

A phone call to the New Jersey Board of Education's Public Information Office confirms that the calendar is on the agenda for the March 17th meeting and that Wiccan holidays have been tentatively added to the calendar.. The calendar will be voted on for final approval at the meeting. To check on the results of the vote, view the meeting agenda and/or meeting minutes at the NJ BOE website.

If approved, students who identify themselves as Wiccan/Pagan would be eligible, with a parental note, to be excused from school on the dates of the eight holidays, or sabbats. It would also pave the way for similar policy to be set in other states, as New Jersey appears to be the only state even considering adding the dates to their board of education calendar.

The sabbats for 2010 include Imbolc (February 2), Ostara (March 20), Beltane (May 1), Litha (June 21), Lammas (August 1), Maybon (September 22), Samhain (October 31) and Yule (December 21).

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