VALENCIA – What began as a debate for school board candidates Thursday evolved into a forum for some audience members angered about what they were hearing. It all started when the seven board hopefuls for the William S. Hart Union High School District were asked about their philosophies for having school days off for holy days such as Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Many school calendars, including Hart’s, only recognize Christmas with time off from school. Some want the district to offer the same time off on the holiest of days observed by non-Christian faiths. Incumbent Dennis King does not support adding days off to the school year, saying it would affect too many people who don’t celebrate them. Out of the 20,000 students served last year in the district, King said that about 365 took time off for Jewish observances. When her children are in temple for those days, Schatz said, they lose out on lessons taught in school then and also find themselves a day behind with homework. She called the situation a disgrace. The district’s diversity committee next month will recommend to the school board that important holy days of non-Christian faiths should be considered as days off when establishing the school-year calendar. The diversity committee was created by the board last year to identify strategies and programs that will lead to a more inclusive environment in classrooms after some families charged the district with discrimination and have since filed a lawsuit. Sue Doyle,(661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “Taking a holiday off for one set of the population sounds good but it affects a whole lot of people,” King said. At that point, Cis Herskovitz, wife of candidate Steve Herskovitz, stood up from her seat in the audience at Rio Norte Junior High and told the crowd of about 55 that the days in question are not holidays, but holy days. She said that the meaning of these days are misinterpreted by many because they are often called holidays and that undermines their importance. Herskovitz said the district overlooks these days and that teachers sometimes schedule exams 24 hours after a holy day. When that happens, students who stay home and should be observing their faith on those days are instead studying for school. Valencia resident Elizabeth Schatz then took the floor and said it’s only fair for the district to also offer time off for days such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Without it, she said, it’s like telling children who celebrate Christmas that they aren’t allowed to have it off. “So why don’t we flip it, and you give Yom Kippur off next year?” Schatz said.