Teachers' alliance sues Rhode Island school for barring observation of Good Friday


A group of teachers in Rhode Island are suing a city school department for denying their requests for leave on Good Friday.

According to WPRI.com, the Cranston Teachers' Alliance in Craston, Rhode Island is pursuing a case against the Cranston School Department for requiring them to come to work on Good Friday. The group alleged in its lawsuit that the school department denied the requests of Christian teachers when they filed for religious leave on April 3, Good Friday.

WPRI.com said that the school department had listed religious holidays, including Good Friday and the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, as days when the school is open.

However, the Alliance claimed that a collective bargaining agreement between the Cranston School Department and its employees allow teachers, teacher's assistants, bus aides, and technical assistants to take up to two days of religious leave in one school year.

The group also claimed that the teachers who requested leave on Jewish holidays were granted their applications, WPRO News Talk said.

"If the Cranston School Committee wants to open schools on important religious holidays, they must honour and respect their employees' religious beliefs," Cranston Teachers' Alliance President Lizbeth Larkin said in a statement.

"I wish they had not opened school on the Jewish Holy days and Good Friday, but since they made that decision they should not be telling Christians of all denominations that Good Friday is not important enough to merit a religious leave day," she added.

Cranston School Superintendent Judith Lundsten released a statement acknowledging the bargain agreement between the school and the employees, according to WPRI.com. However, she said that leave requests are only accommodated if an applicant's religion requires attendance at services on that holiday.

"The contractual language states, they may be granted the day off if their religious observance obligations require attendance at religious services held during the school day," Lundsten clarified.