2 NJ students disciplined after Muslim student called ‘ISIS’ online
Months after the Woodbridge School District and police launched an investigation into a picture of a Muslim student that was posted on social media with the word "ISIS," officials say the person who posted the image could not be found.
The picture, taken by another unidentified student, shows former Colonia High School student Saira Ali during lunch. Cell phones have since been banned in the school's cafeteria, according to the Associated Press.
The image was posted last spring to the social media site Snapchat. Following the incident, Ali posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook.
On Oct. 25, Ali, who is now a student at Rutgers University, wrote a public post on Instagram account and Facebook page with a picture of a letter from the school district. Her message stated that "After 4 months of 'investigation' the Woodbridge Township School District has come to the conclusion that when I was unknowingly taken a picture of at lunch, in school, by another student, and posted on snapchat as 'ISIS' I was not 'harassed, intimidated, or bullied.' Apparently, according to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, it's entirely acceptable to take pictures of strangers and post them on social media with derogatory, inaccurate, slurs."
Woodbridge Superintendent of Schools Robert Zega said Wednesday that the initial letter was wrong and another was sent correcting it.
According to Zega, when school officials first learned about the photo in June, they immediately launched an investigation and contacted police. Authorities took over the investigation, but were unable to determine who posted the photo of Ali. At that point, the district continued with its own investigation.
“It wasn’t like anything was ignored or allowed to take place," Zega said, denouncing any accusations that the district turned the other way when the photo was first reported. "The investigation did reveal some other things that students were disciplined for."
Due to privacy laws, Zega couldn't say how many other students were involved, what roles they played or how they were disciplined.
He said police couldn't file harassment charges against the students “because there was no direct evidence linking them" following probes by both the district and by police.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.