Teacher challenges New York to let him see St Patrick’s Day parade
An Irish-American schoolteacher has launched a legal challenge with the New York City Human Rights Commission, claiming that he is being denied his right to honour St Patrick.
Schoolteacher Frank Schorn filed the legal complaint following the scheduling of a parent-teacher conference on St Patrick’s Day, which would prevent him from marching in the Fifth Avenue parade to honour the saint.
Mr Schorn’s lawyers claim that the scheduling of the conference, which the Department of Education has refused to change, is particularly poor, considering the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, had recently added three holidays to the school calendar to cater for other religious and ethnic groups.
These include the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as well as the Lunar New Year.
“We are not asking that the mayor accommodate New York’s oldest immigrant community by declaring a school holiday,” lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, told New York Daily News. “We are instead asking that the Department of Education make a minor change to its schedule so that the religious observance of thousands of teachers and parents who celebrate the feast day of St Patrick be recognised and honoured.”
Mr Schorn is also vice-president of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, an organisation that serves Irish immigrants throughout the US capital, and claims that scheduling the conferences at 4.30pm on the Irish holy day is unfair to him, both as a Catholic and as an Irish-American.
“The insensitive scheduling of parent teacher meetings on 17th March has put me in an untenable position of choosing between my ethnic and religious heritage and my duty to help my students,” he told reporters.
The resident of the New York borough of Queens had been planning on seeing the end of the parade after classes had finished for the day. However, his contract with the city requires all educators to attend parent-teacher conferences, which occur twice a year.
The complaint was filed last Friday, claiming that the DOE had refused all of their requests to amicably resolve the issue.
It claims that Irish-American teachers who want to honour St Patrick are being discriminated against due to their national origin, which is a violation of New York City’s human rights law.