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Veterans speak up on Leander, TX ISD having classes on Memorial Day 2014

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"As a veteran, I feel as if the value of my service is being eroded. I am a member of Leander Veterans of Foreign Wars and I am sure most of my comrades feel the same" – An Austin veteran of the Korean War

Memorial Day is the holiday most veterans revere above all other celebrations honored by our government. So it came as a big surprise when it became known that the Leander Texas Independent School District (ISD) had scheduled Memorial Day, 2014 as a date for a bad weather make-up day. This was especially amazing since Memorial Day is a federal holiday established by 5 U.S. Code § 6103.

On February 6, 2014, parents from the Leander ISD attended a meeting of its board of trustees to voice their displeasure and asked that they change their decision. Superintendent Bret Champion explained to the parents that the decision must stand at the moment but they are examining alternatives.

Veronica Sopher, Leander ISD’s Executive Director for School and Community Relations, commented in an interview that no disrespect was intended to any veterans or families of veterans. However, she said, “We are bound by state law and teachers' contracts as to when the start of school will be and how many holidays can be scheduled. We have very little flexibility on when we can schedule make-up days for educational days that are lost because of weather.”

James Crabtree, a major in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve fervently voiced his feelings to the board members,

I served in Iraq with a battalion, which lost 10 good Marines. Memorial Day is the one day our nation has set aside to honor them and all who have given their lives in our armed forces. Surely the board can find another day, any day, in which to make up for the ice day. Already this year the board chose to recognize Columbus Day but have children in school on Veterans Day. To have classes now on Memorial Day as well is not only wrong, it is unpatriotic.

Other Austin veterans also commented on this story. An Army veteran of the Korean War said,

As a veteran I feel as if the value of my service is being eroded. I am a member of Leander VFW and I am sure most of my comrades feel the same. speak with feelings on the value of Memorial Day, many gave all, and I personally have a brother who was killed at Normandy, 24 June 44. The school board has a lot of different options, unfortunately they chose this holiday. I only hope they will reverse their decision.

An Air Force pilot in Vietnam (Lt. Col, ret) added, “I don't like what the Leander ISD school has done, but I'm hoping that Leander citizens will protest this action.”

And an Army Captain stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War, was concerned about the overall effect this type of decision is having on our culture. He said, “It is all part of the dumbing down program to belittle what made this country the exceptional place it is. One way to destroy our history (heritage) is ignore significant holidays especially those of a religious nature or of honoring that which made us great.”

However, what has not yet been reported is the Leander ISD had already scheduled a Student Holiday-Staff Development” on February 3, 2014. on their 2013-2014 District Calendar. Perhaps a question for them might be, “Why couldn't the make-up day be scheduled on this day instead of Memorial Day, especially since students were not attending classes anyway?”

Thinking people might wonder why the Leander ISD didn't follow the policy of adjacent Lake Travis ISD which scheduled their Bad Weather Makeup Day on President's Day, February 17, 2014. Marco Alvarado, Director of Communications at Lake Travis ISD, related that their Calendar Committee, a part of their Curriculum and Instruction Department, decided their makeup days so they would have the least impact on students, parents and the community. This was certainly a sensible decision on their part on how to deal with the unusual weather the Austin area has been dealing with this winter.

Veterans deplore any attempt to detract or degrade holidays or celebrations that are near and dear to us such as that done by Leander ISD. They could have been taken other actions that would have eliminated this ridiculous decision in the first place. We applaud the actions of nearby Lake Travis ISD and all others in and nearby our Austin metroplex area that thoughtfully planned their school calendars accordingly.

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