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State Senate passes Lunar schools bill

By Alex Robinson

Queens’ Asian community’s fight to get a school holiday for the Lunar New Year cleared a major hurdle Tuesday.

The state Senate passed a bill which requires local education boards to consider closing schools on days student absenteeism is so high that it would be a waste of resources to stay open.

Schools in areas with significant Asian populations, such as Flushing, have experienced high absentee rates on the Lunar New Year, the largest holiday in many Asian cultures, but have remained open.

“The state Senate took an important vote in recognizing an unfair burden schools across the state place on students within the Asian community when they are unable to close on Lunar New Year,” said Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who co-sponsored the bill. “It is simply impractical to waste educational resources when a large portion of a particular ethnic group celebrates a historically significant day.”

The bill will now be delivered back to the state Assembly, which passed the bill in February, to pass on to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

“All Americans — whether they are Chinese, Korean, Hindu or from any other background — deserve the freedom to observe important religious and cultural holidays without fear of harming their children’s education,” said Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), who also co-sponsored the bill.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566

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