February 3, 2014

Assembly Passes Legislation Allowing Schools in New York City to Close for the Lunar New Year Holiday
Bill Enables Schools to Close on Days When a Significant Number of Students Would be Absent Due to Religious Observances or Other Holidays

In an effort to further recognize and honor the diversity of students throughout New York City, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Ron Kim today announced the passage of legislation that would allow New York City schools to be closed on the Lunar New Year Holiday (A.7756).

Approximately one in six New York City public school students is Asian American. Currently, students who celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday receive an "excused" absence, meaning they miss a full day of classes and have the absence marked on their record.

"New York City is truly a melting pot of different religions and cultures and its citizens should be allowed to embrace and celebrate their holidays," Speaker Silver said. "Last week, many of my neighbors and community members celebrated Lunar New Year and were left with the choice of spending the holiday with family or attending school. This legislation would allow the city to give these students the option to fully celebrate their holiday without worrying about being marked absent from school, missing a test or falling behind on their homework."

"On such a significant and special day to so many of my constituents and New Yorkers throughout the city, a permanently marked absence from school should be the last thing on their child's minds," Assemblyman Kim said. "The Asian American community has contributed so much to our local and state economy as the fastest growing group in New York City, and this legislation truly offers up the recognition and appreciation that they deserve. I applaud the Speaker and my colleagues in the Assembly and in the Senate for standing with me and supporting me on this important measure."

The bill requires that the city Department of Education consider closing schools if a holiday is likely to result in "a considerable proportion" of students being absent.

Schools in areas that have a high number of Asian American residents, such as Chinatown in Manhattan and Flushing in Queens, report large numbers of absences on the Lunar New Year.

Late last week, Assemblyman Kim and Speaker Silver joined with Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council Member Margaret Chin to highlight the necessity of this measure at the headquarters of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Manhattan, just blocks from P.S. 130 and several other schools with large Asian American student populations.