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Spring Break Without Easter Irks L.A. Parents

Times Staff Writer

A group of parents angry that spring vacation this year begins two weeks after Easter Sunday staged protests Thursday against the Los Angeles Unified School District at a Sun Valley elementary school.

“We as Christians are fighting the change,” said John Barnwell, a parent who organized the protest at Vinedale Elementary School. “Most people who believe in God believe that this is the most important week in Christian history.”

In previous years, the weeklong vacation preceded Easter.

Barnwell and a dozen other parents and children carried signs and passed out literature urging parents to keep their children home during Easter week, which this year begins Sunday. Vacation for the district’s 592,000 students begins April 10.

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The school board, in an agreement reached with the Los Angeles teachers union last year, scheduled spring vacation to begin halfway through the 20-week semester. Easter falls on a Sunday within a 35-day period between March 22 and April 25 each year.

“We believe that is most educationally sound,” Don Schrack, a spokesman for the United Teachers-Los Angeles, said of the schedule change. He added that teachers also like the change because it comes midway through the semester.

But Barnwell said most parents still do not know about the change this year, even though schools routinely send home vacation schedules in the fall. Having the vacation separate from the traditional Easter week makes worship more difficult and creates a problem for families planning vacations at that time, he said.

“I would never tell anyone what to believe in,” said Kris Tine, who has two children in Los Angeles schools. “But they’re trying to take the Lord away from us.”

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Board President Roberta Weintraub said she supports returning spring vacation to Easter week, even though she voted for the master calendar last year that included the change.

Although the spring break next year will, by coincidence, fall during the traditional Easter week, Weintraub said she will push to have the traditional vacation period in future years.

Burbank and Glendale school districts will have their spring vacations during Easter week, officials said.


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