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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
June 17, 2024

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Inclusive Practices to Support All Students’ Cultural Observances, Summer 2024

California’s students, families, and educators represent the exceptional diversity of our great state.

As Californians of many backgrounds prepare for cultural and religious observances in the coming months, the California Department of Education (CDE) would like to make sure that all educators have access to information and resources that support: 1) inclusion of all students and families; 2) compliance with California Education Code Section 48205 regarding excused absences for religious or cultural observances; and 3) compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and California Education Code Section 220, which protect students from discrimination on the basis of real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion.

The summer of 2024 includes many cultural or religious observances that may be commemorated within our diverse school communities, including—but certainly not limited to—Eid al Adha (June 16–17), Juneteenth (June 19), and Ashara Mubaraka (July 7–17).

The CDE recommends remaining in proactive communication with local cultural organizations to maintain awareness of which specific cultural and religious events are observed in your community and how those observances may impact students’ academic participation, including in summer school and credit recovery programs.

The CDE encourages educators to be mindful of potential family obligations when scheduling major exams and deadlines. In the case of cultural or religious observances that may extend over multiple days, local educational agencies (LEAs) may choose to consider short-term independent study per California Education Code sections 51744–51749.6 (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?division=4.&chapter=5.&part=28.&lawCode=EDC&title=2.&article=5.5).

Participation in independent study must always be the choice of the student and the parent/guardian of a minor student. LEAs shall not require or otherwise obligate a student’s participation in an independent study program. The CDE encourages mindfulness of religious and cultural observances when determining deadlines for independent study assignments as there may be restrictions on students’ ability to work while engaging in a religious observance.

The CDE Calendar of Events—CalEdFacts web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/pn/fb/cdecalendar.asp includes many of the observances that may impact schools and families and continues to be updated.

By ensuring that all students feel safe and welcome at school during times of religious or cultural observance, we celebrate the incredible diversity of California and of our local communities across the state.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

TT:es
Last Reviewed: Monday, June 17, 2024

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