With today marking the beginning of Ramadan, Dieringer School District in Washington is urging teachers to follow guidelines issued by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) about adherence to Islam. In March, CAIR submitted an “Informative Letter on Upcoming Islamic Holidays and Religious Accommodations” to Superintendent Judy Martinson. Martinson enacted the letter as official District policy when she distributed the letter to school principals, who in turn circulated the letter to all teachers and staff.
To help Muslim students observe Ramadan at school, CAIR presses District officials to, among other things, “[w]elcome Muslim students during Ramadan with ‘Ramadan Mubarak!’ or ‘Ramadan Kareem.’” The letter also instructs teachers to monitor Muslim students’ Ramadan fasting and not to schedule any tests on the Islamic holidays Eid Al-Fitr and Eid.
“By urging teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic, the District is running roughshod over the First Amendment’s mandate of government neutrality toward religion. A school district would never order teachers to ‘welcome’ Catholic students during Easter with ‘He is risen, alleluia!’ Singling out Muslim students for special treatment is blatantly unconstitutional.”Daniel Piedra, FCDF’s executive director.
A District parent and teacher reached out to the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) expressing concern about the letter.
In response to the District’s new Ramadan policy, FCDF sent a legal memo today to Superintendent Martinson to warn her that the District is likely violating the Constitution by favoring Muslim students. The letter also warns Martinson about CAIR’s longstanding anti-Semitic advocacy and ties to radical Islamists. According to the letter:
To be clear, nothing in the Constitution prohibits public schools from accommodating students’ religious exercise to the extent it would not interfere with educational interests. “But the religious liberty protected by the Constitution is abridged when the State affirmatively sponsors” religious practice. Here, by issuing the CAIR Letter to District employees, you acted under color of state law to create an official policy that has a primary effect of advancing religion. The Ramadan Policy, in both adoption and implementation, plainly imposes liability on the District under the United States and Washington Constitutions.FCDF’s Legal Memo to Washington School District
“This case is yet another attempt by CAIR to infiltrate uninformed school districts so it can advance its subversive agenda. CAIR must not be allowed to indoctrinate impressionable schoolchildren under the guise of ‘diversity’ and ‘cultural awareness.’ FCDF is committed to keeping CAIR out of our America’s public schools.”Daniel Piedra, FCDF Executive Director
FCDF warned Martinson that legal proceedings may be initiated against the District if it does not rescind its Ramadan policy.