Irish-American teacher challenges St Patrick's Day meeting

An Irish-American teacher has launched a legal challenge after his employers scheduled a parent-teacher meeting on St Patrick’s Day.

Frank J Schorn lodged the legal challenge with the New York City Human Rights Commission after he claimed the timing of the meeting would mean he would miss the city’s parade.

Mr Schorn, who is also vice-president of the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre, was quoted on website as saying: “The insensitive scheduling of parent-teacher meetings on March 17 has put me in an untenable position of choosing between my ethnic and religious heritage and my duty to help my students. I foresee being prevented from attending any Irish cultural events on March 17.”

His legal challenge has been lodged on his behalf by law firm O’Dwyer and Bernstien. The company’s senior partner, Dr Brian O’Dwyer, is chair of the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre. He said the aim of the legal challenge was not to have the mayor of New York declare March 17 a school holiday, but instead to have the city’s Department of Education tweak its scheduling of the parent-teacher meetings to facilitate Irish-Americans who wished to partake in the St Patrick’s Day festivities.

Teachers are contractually obliged to attend the meetings with parents.

Dr O’Dwyer said: “The scheduling of the conferences on the most sacred day for Irish Americans not only interferes with the religious observance of the many Irish-American school teachers and administrators employed by the Department of Education, it similarly interferes with the rights of the parents of children enrolled in the New York City school system and that they also must make a choice between discussing their child’s scholastic progress or observing a religious feast day.

“In a city which celebrates its diversity... it is particularly upsetting that the Department of Education has so blithely ignored the legitimate religious and ethnic expressions of Irish American New Yorkers.”

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