Montana Students Required To Attend School On MLK Day

World Telegram & Sun/Dick DeMarsico

Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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The school district in Bozeman, Mont., decided at a recent school board meeting that students will be required to go to school on Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday.

“As more families from other states move to Bozeman, some parents are surprised or upset to learn that kids here don’t get a holiday from school on Martin Luther King Day,” The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

While most schools and workplaces across the country take the day off, Bozeman has been using the Federal Holiday as “an opportunity to teach kids about the slain civil rights leader, but Superintendent Rob Watson told School Board trustees Tuesday that some parents see it as diminishing King.”

“Bozeman has become more diverse, but it’s still an overwhelmingly white community, said trustee Heide Arneson. “That’s why Martin Luther King Day and American Indian Heritage Day are important opportunities for conversations about issues that need to come to light.”

Board chair Andy Willett told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle that he thought there was a misunderstanding by liberals.

“I’ve had friends say we’re not progressive. Montana’s behind the times.” he said. “I’d rather keep it staying in school but inform the community.”

Watson wanted the people of Bozeman to understand the decisions the school board made.

“The school calendar for next year is set. One reason that making Martin Luther King Day a school holiday in future years would be problematic is because it’s the start of finals week at the high school, he said. “The following week, students get two days off, Jan. 22 and 23, as semester break. If those days off were moved back a week to Jan. 15, the school year would have to start a week earlier in August to make the two semesters the same length.”

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