116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Calling it a “disgrace” and “insensitive,” community members Tuesday night called on the Iowa City school board to cancel plans to hold class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In recent years, teachers and staff have worked on the federal holiday, but classes were not held. This school year, school is scheduled for what administrators have said will be a day of service to honor and learn about the civil rights icon.
At a school board meeting, Henri Harper, of Iowa City, thanked school officials for wanting to make it a service day, but called for those activities to be rescheduled and for school to be cancelled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Jan. 20.
“This is a defining moment of what kind of school district we have,” said Harper, who was speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Racial Justice.
About 15 people spoke against having school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including two Spanish speakers who used a translator. Many more supporters of that view were in the racially diverse crowd.
Royceann Porter of Iowa City asked the school board to “recognize the sacredness” of the holiday.
“This is not only disrespectful,” she said, “it is a disgrace.”
The issue was not on the school board's agenda Tuesday, so members did not respond to the comments. But they put it on the agenda for a Dec. 10 meeting.
Cedar Rapids and Des Moines school districts planned to hold snow makeup days on the holiday last January, but backtracked after questions arose about the appropriateness of that schedule.
Cedar Rapids students do not have class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this school year.