Student reprimanded for religious absences

Volokh, Eugene VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Tue Nov 23 13:59:29 PST 2004


	I'm surely no expert on the United Church of God; but according
to http://www.ucg.org/booklets/UC/feasttabernacles.htm, it seems that
this is an 8-day event, and it does take place away from most people's
homes:  "The highlight of each year for members of the United Church of
God is the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. Among the sacred feasts God
revealed to ancient Israel, this festival, which falls in autumn in the
northern hemisphere, lasts seven days and is immediately followed by a
separate but related festival on the eighth day (Leviticus 23:34, 36,
39). This eight-day period remains an occasion for God's servants to
come together for spiritual instruction and renewal.  Meeting in
regional locations around the world, families gather to picture the
'world to come' (see Hebrews 2:5-7), which will begin immediately after
the return of Christ to earth. The theme of the Feast of Tabernacles is
Jesus' millennial reign."

	Eugene


> -----Original Message-----
> From: religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu 
> [mailto:religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of 
> Susanna Peters
> Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 1:48 PM
> To: paul-finkelman at utulsa.edu; Law & Religion issues for Law Academics
> Subject: Re: Student reprimanded for religious absences
> 
> 
> Not knowing the facts of the situation w/r to travel distance is also 
> problematic.  For example my community here in the UP of 
> Michigan is 5 
> hours away from a coservative or Orthodox synagogue (which 
> also happens 
> to be in another state). To ask a family in such a situation to start 
> observances say Sunday eve that may conclude at sunset 
> Monday, then to 
> drive back all day Wednesday just so they can go to school on 
> Thursday 
> and drive again back again all day Friday for evening 
> services on that 
> day (esp during certain times of year) seems a bit harsh not to say 
> costly and expensive. Most families here could not and cannot 
> afford to 
> make such arrangements. My hope would be that the facts, e.g. 
> where you 
> live and how easily you can travel (e.g. car, bus, someone elses car 
> etc)  should make some difference.  I guess the question is what the 
> test would be to see if these incidents to the religous 
> observances need 
> to be accomodated.    Should some people get more accomodation than 
> others?  How would the courts decide? Ideally the school should be 
> flexible, but maybe they have some reason not to be?
> 
> > If the school has a strict attendance policy and the 
> student needs to
> > take four days off for religious holiday (use my earlier 
> example of the 
> > observant Jew and Passover) it might be constitutionally 
> required that 
> > the studnet can get the fourdays off without penalty; but 
> surely there 
> > is no requirement that the student also get off the four 
> days in between 
> > those four days, plus a travel day.  Indeed, even if the religious 
> > observance *required* that the observance take place in a 
> particular 
> > place, and could not take place elsewhere, I don't see how 
> there could 
> > ba constitutional requirement that the travel days or days 
> in between 
> > obervance, be exempt from the attendance requirement.  So, 
> maybe you are 
> > right, that required or elective travel should not be exempt.
> > 
> > Steven Jamar wrote:
> > 
> >> I am unaware that the United Church of God requires out-of-state
> >> attendance.  Does that matter?  Does it matter whether it is a  
> >> requirement as opposed to an elective thing?  It seems to 
> me that the  
> >> state has a compelling state interest in educating its 
> citizens and  
> >> that that is what we look at, not at some compelling interest to 
> >> change  the rules on attendance for an elective activity.
> >>
> >> Steve
> >>
> >> On Tuesday, November 23, 2004, at 02:19  PM, Mark Stern wrote:
> >>
> >>> If school officials have discretion which absences to excuse and 
> >>> which not(as it appears from the story that they do),then the 
> >>> federal free exercise clause would seem to require excusal absent 
> >>> compelling interest. Marc Stern
> >>>
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
> >>> [mailto:religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Volokh, 
> >>> Eugene
> >>> Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 12:20 PM
> >>> To: religionlaw at lists.ucla.edu
> >>> Subject: FW: Student reprimanded for religious absences
> >>>
> >>>     Any thoughts on this issue?  The Indiana Free Exercise Clause 
> >>> has been interpreted to require strict scrutiny, City Chapel
> >>> Evangelical
> >>> Free Inc. v. City of South Bend, 744 N.E.2d 443 (Ind. 
> 2001), though I
> >>> know of no cases that have dealt with the government's 
> role as K-12
> >>> educator.
> >>>
> >>>     Eugene
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> 
> http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2004/11/21/news/lake_county/
> >>> 2e51b
> >>> ae417129d4486256f52007f530f.txt
> >>>
> >>> The parent of a sixth-grade Lowell Middle School student says the 
> >>> Tri-Creek School Corp. has threatened to expel her child for 
> >>> religious beliefs.
> >>>
> >>> Ruth Scheidt said middle school officials forced her 
> 12-year-old son 
> >>> to sign a letter last month stating he understood if he missed 
> >>> another day of school for any reason before the end of 
> the semester 
> >>> in January, he could be expelled. The family had just 
> returned from 
> >>> an out-of-state, eight-day religious observance called 
> the Feast of 
> >>> Tabernacles, celebrated by the United Church of God. . . .
> >>>
> >>> Under Indiana law there is no ruling as to whether 
> children are to 
> >>> be excused for religious purposes, Neal said. The Indiana 
> Department 
> >>> of Education holds firmly that it is not a reason to 
> excuse students 
> >>> under Indiana law. . . .
> >>>
> >>> Students are allowed five days of excused absences per semester, 
> >>> Neal said.
> >>>
> >>> Excused absences include illness with a doctor's note, a death in 
> >>> the immediate family, quarantine or court appearance.
> >>>
> >>> "Occasionally there may be an emergency in a family," Neal said. 
> >>> "The principal may excuse a day to do that."
> >>>
> >>> After more than five absences, students must sign a letter
> >>> acknowledging
> >>> they understand they could be expelled. Some states 
> provide a list of
> >>> approved absences that are religious-based, but Indiana 
> does not, Neal
> >>> said. . . .
> >>>
> >>> _______________________________________________
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> _______________________________________________
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