Because of the way Prince William area schools deal with absences on religious holidays, Jillian Perry hasn't been able to get perfect attendance awards.

Michael Segall has missed tests scheduled on religious holidays that he has had to make up during class.

And Najma Syed feels compelled to send her three daughters to school on her faith's holiest days.

For some Jews, Muslims and members of other minority religious groups, these are examples of why area schools should be more accommodating of their faiths. Such issues are being raised to administrators with increasing frequency as Prince William schools grow more religiously diverse, school officials said.

Last month, a student, a rabbi and representatives of a community group told the Prince William School Board about problems encountered by students who miss school to practice their faith. In response, the board is considering changing its policy on perfect attendance and might also consider the testing issue. The board's policy committee will make a recommendation to the full board perhaps by the end of May.

Under current policy in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park schools, religious holiday absences are excused with parental approval. But students become ineligible for perfect attendance awards and sometimes miss tests that they have to find time to make up. Because of those issues, parents such as Syed have decided to send their children to school on holy days.

"I would feel better that they acknowledge and recognize us," said Syed, who is Muslim and lives in Manassas Park. If tests and significant academic work were not scheduled on Muslim holidays, Syed said, "I think that I would keep them home to participate in the prayers with the family."

Prince William's testing policy says scheduling tests "must reflect sensitivity" to students' religious beliefs and practices. In Manassas and Manassas Park, officials said that teachers try to avoid scheduling tests on religious holidays but that there is no policy preventing them from doing so.

None of the area school districts has policies that take religious absences into consideration in perfect attendance awards. Some area schools have implemented their own policies, issuing "good attendance awards" that allow for several absences.

Prince William School Board members have expressed mixed feelings about changing the policies. Some are concerned about how many religions and how many religious holidays would have to be recognized.

"Most of our teachers are cognizant of the main religious holidays," board Chairman Lucy S. Beauchamp (At Large) said. "I would not want to legislate that. Where do you draw the line? How many religions do you accommodate?"

If tests were banned on multiple religions' holidays, some school officials said teachers would be constricted significantly in planning their lessons.

Board members seem more amenable to altering the perfect attendance policy.

"I basically see their point," said board member John David Allen Sr. (Coles), who serves on the policy committee. "If a child is practicing his or her religion and that happens to fall during the time school is in session, and we allow them to be absent, why can't we allow them to participate in perfect attendance?"

Allen and Beauchamp said they might support a "good attendance award," similar to that given at some area schools, which allows students to miss several days of class.

For Perry, who is Jewish and misses school for Jewish holy days, getting a perfect attendance award is not such a big deal. But being shut out of the competition strikes her as unfair. "I'm not even given the opportunity to try for a perfect attendance award," said Perry, 15, who recently addressed the board. "That's putting a person a step down because of religious holidays. I shouldn't be penalized for taking off religious holidays. That's unfair."

Segall, 17, a student at Osbourn Park, said tests are "too often" given on the two most important Jewish holidays -- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. He said teachers have been inflexible after being reminded of the holidays.

"I went up to a teacher and said, Can you make this test for another day?' " Segall said. "She said, No, sorry, you'll have to make it up.' It affects you adversely. You fall behind in all your other work when you have to make up a test in class while everybody is catching up with the new material."

When Segall was in elementary school, and earning perfect attendance was important to him, his mother would take him to class in the morning on High Holy Days. She would take him out of school half an hour later and go to synagogue -- just in time for the beginning of services.

Segall said accommodating minority religions is a matter of parity.

"It's not right for us to be considered absent for an important holiday when for Christmas and Easter, {Christians} get off {with} no questions asked," he said. CAPTION: Jillian Perry, who is Jewish and misses school for Jewish holy days, says getting a perfect attendance award is not such a big deal but being shut out is.