Some in New Jersey spend MLK Day in school

January 21, 2013 1:58:04 PM PST
Seventh graders in Mr. Bernardo's class are glued to the TV, witnessing history unfold, watching the inauguration and discussing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But the idea of school being open on what is a federal and state holiday, not sitting well with some parents.

"It's a national holiday. It is only right to respect him and what he did, but we have to abide by the laws," one parent said.

State law states that children must be in class 180 days each year, by the latest June 30th. Students here in Little Ferry and in other parts of New Jersey are in a unique position. Following Sandy, schools were closed for 7 scheduled days as the storm heavily damaged the buildings.

"Across the street, the building was about 4 feet under water on the bottom floor. We lost 5 classrooms there," Frank Scarafile, Little Ferry Public Schools Superintendent, said.

Scarafile explains, in order to make up for those lost days, students were here on MLK Day and will be back February 18th and 19th, which includes Presidents' Day and for 4 additional days at the end of the school year.

"We're making it a teachable moment. I think being in school today they'll get more about Dr. King's work in the classroom then at home playing X-Box, sleeping and watching TV," he said.

Critics say MLK Day should not be "diminished" as an optional day off, believing the decision to stay open, is motivated by some people who have "narrow minds." Others disagree.

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