Establishes the Diwali school holiday in certain qualifying school districts to commemorate the Hindu festival of lights.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to establishing the Diwali school holiday
To allow schools with a large number of celebrants of the festival of Diwali to have an official school holiday.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 adds new section 3204-a to the Education Law, requiring schools in a city with a population of one million or more inhabitants and an Asian population of 7.5% to close schools for Lakshmi Puja, the third day of the Hindu Festival of Lights (Diwali). If population data for the percentage of South-Asian residents is available, cities with more than 3% of such individuals would be necessary to close schools. The Board of Education or Trustees shall determine which schools will close for the holiday.
Section 2 adds new subdivision 7-c to section 3604 of the Education Law, allowing the commissioner to count any such school holidays as a school session day.
New York is home to a wide variety of religions and ethnicities, each with their own set of holidays and festivals. When such holidays and festivals fall on school days, many teachers, and parents are required to choose between a school absence or not celebrating important cultural or religious observances. New York is home to many residents of South-Asian descent. Lakshmi Puja is celebrated on the third day of the five-day festival of Diwali and is considered the most significant part of the festival. It is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jainists. Allowing such a school holiday demonstrates the importance of New York's cultural diversity and the significance of its South-Asian community. This recognition is already afforded to other ethnic and religious groups in New York.
This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become law; provided that any and all rules and regulations and any other measures necessary to implement any provision of this act on its effective date may be promulgated and taken, respectively, on or before such effective date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7002 IN SENATE April 11, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. STAVISKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to establishing the Diwa- li school holiday THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section 3204-a to read as follows: S 3204-A. HINDU FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS SCHOOL HOLIDAY. 1. THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF THE HINDU LUNISOLAR MONTH OF KARTIK, KNOWN AS LAKSHMI PUJA, SHALL BE A SCHOOL HOLIDAY FOR ANY OR ALL SCHOOLS IN A QUALIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT WHERE THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OR TRUSTEES DETERMINES SUCH SCHOOLS HAVE A SIGNIFICANT SOUTH-ASIAN POPULATION. 2. A QUALIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, SHALL INCLUDE A CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF A CITY HAVING A POPULATION OF ONE MILLION OR MORE INHABITANTS AND HAVING AN ASIAN POPULATION EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN SEVEN AND ONE-HALF PERCENT. THE ASIAN POPULATION, FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, SHALL INCLUDE THOSE PERSONS, ADULTS AND CHIL- DREN, WHO ARE FULLY OR PARTIALLY OF ASIAN DESCENT AND SHALL INCLUDE ALL THOSE PERSONS AND ETHNIC GROUPS IDENTIFIED AS ASIAN BY THE UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU IN THE MOST RECENT DECENNIAL UNITED STATES CENSUS. IN THE EVENT THAT THE STATE OF NEW YORK OR THE UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU COLLECTS POPULATION DATA FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK WHICH DENOTES THE NUMBER OF CITIZENS OF ASIAN-INDIAN, BANGLADESHI, AND SRI LANKAN DESCENT, THEN A QUALIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SHALL INCLUDE A CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF A CITY HAVING A POPULATION OF ONE MILLION OR MORE INHABITANTS AND HAVING A SOUTH ASIAN POPULATION, INCLUDING ASIAN-INDIAN, BANGLADESHI, AND SRI LANKAN EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN THREE PERCENT. 3. THE SCHOOL AUTHORITIES OF EVERY QUALIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT ARE HERE- BY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO CAUSE ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS WITHIN SUCH DISTRICT TO BE CLOSED ON LAKSHMI PUJA, DURING THE FESTIVAL OF DIWALI. S 2. Section 3604 of the education law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7-c to read as follows:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14679-02-4 S. 7002 2
7-C. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, FOR PURPOSES OF ANY CALCULATION UNDER SUBDIVISION SEVEN OR EIGHT OF THIS SECTION, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL DISREGARD ANY REDUCTION RESULTING FROM OBSERVANCE OF LAKSHMI PUJA, DURING THE FESTIVAL OF DIWALI AND, IF NECESSARY, SUCH OBSERVED HOLIDAY SHALL BE CALCULATED AS A SESSION DAY. S 3. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law; provided that any and all rules and regu- lations and any other measures necessary to implement any provision of this act on its effective date may be promulgated and taken, respective- ly, on or before such effective date.