Quakertown schools to close for MLK Day next year
Date of publication: Jan. 29, 2018
By Chris English
The Intelligencer and Courier Times
The school board voted unanimously to remove Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a possible snow makeup day in 2018-19.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be a certain day off next school year in the Quakertown Community School District.
After receiving criticism from some residents and the public for making up a snow day on this year’s MLK Day on Jan. 15, the school board voted unanimously at a recent meeting to remove the day as a possible snow makeup day in 2018-19.
Though students spent Jan. 15 learning about King and his legacy — and Superintendent Bill Harner said the makeup day honored the late civil rights leader — both he and board members said they felt it was best to assure there is no school on the next holiday, especially given the recent racial tension in the district after some Quakertown middle students yelled racial slurs at Cheltenham High School cheerleaders during an October football game.
School board member Keith Micucci said his children came home more knowledgeable about King after attending school on Jan. 15, a news release from the school district said.
“In my 20 years in public education, I have never seen or heard about a district totally focusing on one topic on the same day,” Harner added. “The feedback from students, teachers and parents indicated that it was a wonderful and meaningful day.”
But Micucci said he voted to remove the day as a snow makeup date because “if it offends even 5 percent of our community, I think we should respect that.”
Board president Steaven Klein added that district officials and others are working on ways to honor King on next year’s MLK Day, such as holding a voluntary day of service, similar to the ones held by area districts including Central Bucks, Council Rock and Pennsbury.
“Given the incident with the Cheltenham cheerleaders, we didn’t want another issue that put the community in a bad light especially since we were the only district in the area to hold school on that day,” Klein said of the board’s vote.
“Everyone just felt this was the right thing to do,” he added.
Professional trainers from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation are giving intercultural competency assessments to 400 district employees and school board members.
Quakertown has also hired The Peace Center of Langhorne to teach diversity and acceptance to middle school students and fourth-graders. Also, Klein and Harner recently had dinner with parents of African-American students to hear their concerns and explain the district’s plans moving forward, the school district’s news release said.