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How Quincy School Committee voted on Lunar New Year as a day off
How Quincy School Committee voted on Lunar New Year as a day off
How Quincy School Committee voted on Lunar New Year as a day off

Published on: 04/12/2024

Description

QUINCY – Though roughly a third of its citizens and two-fifths of its students identify as Asian, the Quincy school system has once again voted to exclude Lunar New Year from its official calendar.

The school committee voted 4-2 on Wednesday night to approve a 2024-25 calendar that does not grant students and staff a day off on Jan. 25, 2025, which marks the next Lunar New Year. As in the past, students can receive an excused absence if they choose to observe the holiday by staying home from school.

Voting in the minority were Courtney Perdios and Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who also serves as school committee chair. Emily Lebo, Douglas Gutro, Paul Bregoli and Kathryn Hubley opposed making Lunar New Year a school holiday.

During the "open forum" portion of the meeting, a half dozen residents, including former Quincy High School principal and committee member Frank Santoro, spoke in favor of including Lunar New Year as a recognized school holiday, citing Quincy's large Asian population, low school attendance rates on the holiday and the precedent of other communities across the state and country, some of which have a smaller proportion of Asian residents than Quincy.

Several letters supporting Lunar New Year, including one penned by Quincy Councilor-at-large Nina Liang, were read aloud. Liang called Quincy's Asian students "the future of the city" and called on committee members "to listen and respond" rather than sticking by the status quo.

A video was shown featuring interviews of people attending the annual Lunar New Year Festival organized by Quincy Asian Resources Inc. and hosted by North Quincy High School.

In the video, Quincy Asian Resources CEO Philip Chong says recognition of the holiday is an important way to bridge the culture gap between parents born and raised in East Asia and children who grow up in Quincy.

None of the speakers or letter writers opposed observing Lunar New Year as an official school holiday.

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"The purpose of the calendar is to treat all cultures, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds the same without bias or preference," said committee member Douglas Gutro before voting against Lunar New Year's inclusion on the calendar. "I respect all cultures. I support the calendar as is."

Gutro said that in the future he would initiate discussion on removing Good Friday, which is observed with a day off from school, from the calendar. "It should not be treated differently," he said.

Emily Lebo said that committee should follow state and federal calendars rather than "making holidays up."

Lebo has argued on numerous occasions that because Quincy hosts many diverse populations, each with their own unique traditions and holidays, it would be unfair to recognize one without affording the same recognition to others.

Following the vote, Santoro commiserated with Lunar New Year supporters and Quincy residents Thuy Leung and Susan Chinsen in the vestibule of the school administration building on Coddington Street. The three tried to be optimistic, noting that this year two committee members supported Lunar New Year's official recognition, whereas in the past, Santoro had been the holiday's sole advocate on the committee.

"I'm disappointed," Santoro said. "We will be back next year and every year until we get a vote that respects our Asian community."

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News Source : https://www.patriotledger.com/story/news/2024/04/10/quincy-ma-lunar-new-year-2024-school-committee-votes-academic-calendar-asian-americans/73263287007/

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