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De Blasio, adds Asian lunar new year to school calender, closes door on other holidays

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses members of the media on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Credit: Craig Ruttle

The city school system won't close for any additional cultural or religious holidays, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday in announcing an annual day off for the Asian lunar new year.

Appearing at a grade school in Flushing, Queens, where more than 75 percent of students are Asian, de Blasio said he has now kept both his campaign promises to Asians and Muslims. In March, he said schools would close for the Islamic holy days of Eid.

"That's all I've ever said, and that's where we will stand," de Blasio said. "At this point, I've kept my pledge, and I don't intend to make any additions anytime in the foreseeable future."

Under state law, schools must be in session for at least 180 days.

Pradip Das, who has lobbied for the city public schools to recognize the Hindu holidays of Diwali and Durga Puja, said de Blasio has left him feeling "betrayed."

Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), a prime sponsor of a resolution to recognize the Hindu holidays, said he would continue to push.

Das, who won't keep his son home from school on those holidays because of what he views as education's importance, said he'll take the fight to Albany if necessary.

"To cater to one group and ignore the others -- I don't think is fair," said Das, of Jamaica, Queens, a city health and hospitals microbiologist. "If you give it to the Muslims, you have to give it to the Hindus, too."

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