...the story mentions that the district was concerned that such a request wasn't covered under the collective bargaining agreement. That, to me, is an important point. From the scanty details in the story, however, it's difficult to determine whether the teacher's request would need to be accommodated under the law. I am confident, however, that the government, which rarely takes up these kinds of private civil rights cases, will prevail.
I think this is an important point, too.
If accommodating a Muslim teacher's religious beliefs is, in fact, a requirement under the law, then it would surely follow that teachers who practice other
religions should be entitled to similar accommodation? Otherwise they could claim that their beliefs
were being discriminated against.
Accommodation of all the different religious beliefs which staff members in any one school might hold (by granting leave when requested) could make it awfully difficult to run a cohesive school program. I'd say the requirements of efficiently running a school should take precedence over accommodating the religious beliefs of staff members. But then, I'm a teacher, not a lawyer. This is just my opinion.
I live & work in an area of my city which has a high Muslim population. Many of the schools I've worked in have high ratios of Muslim teachers & students. I've never heard of a case like this one before. It would be considered something of a precedent, I'm sure.
There are also many private Muslim schools in my area. Which makes me wonder, if enough Muslim teachers in those schools were granted leave as a right
, as a matter of course, then how would those schools continue to function? Close down during Mecca? My understanding is that Muslims here would not consider their religious practices to over-ride their duties to their (school) employer. Most aspire to visit Mecca once in their life-time, when they have the finances & the time available to do so. There is no imperative to do so at any particular time. But then, I am talking about Melbourne, Australia. Maybe the situation in the USA is different?