☑️ A report went through the process of putting the EBHS yearbook together

☑️ No evidence of bias towards Jewish or Muslim students

☑️ Superintendent Victor Valeski promised "accountability for the mistakes"

An investigation into the Jewish Student Union listing in the East Brunswick High School yearbook has concluded it was a “highly unfortunate error.”

When the book was handed out to seniors the group's listing included a picture of Muslim students. Unlike other club listings, member names were not included. The omission set off a firestorm of finger-pointing, allegations of antisemitism and seemingly lifted the lid on long-simmering issues about how Jewish and Palestinian students believed they were being treated.

In a report issued Wednesday evening attorney Yaacov Brisman of Brisman Law said the incident boiled down to carelessness and negligence by the lead advisor who placed the wrong picture in the final version of the yearbook sent for printing. The advisor, whose name was redacted from the report, only assumed she was using the correct photo, the report concludes.

“I conclude that the use of the incorrect photograph was not purposeful, but rather was a highly unfortunate error. Although [the ‘Lead’ Yearbook Advisor] was incorrect regarding the date that she placed the photograph on the page, it is undeniable that she did place it herself," Brisman wrote in his report to the Board of Education. "Further, [the ‘Lead’ Yearbook Advisor] acknowledged that she placed the incorrect photograph on the page. I found [her] credible, and I have no basis to find that she acted out of any animus, racial, religious, or political, towards Jewish or Muslim students.”

Brisman said that in light of "domestic and international events" the advisor should have had a "heightened sense of awareness and sensitivity surrounding students of Jewish ethnicity and/or faith." The advisor should also have noticed the attire of the students in the photo she selected.

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Jewish Student Union listing in East Brunswick High School yearbook
Jewish Student Union listing in East Brunswick High School yearbook (@StopAntisemites via X),

The final report goes through the nuts-and-bolts of how the yearbook was put together, the digital folders where the photos were kept and how they were labeled.  It also includes copies of the emails exchanged with the group seeking a photo.

The group also said in an email its name was changed to "Jewish Club"  but there was no formal record.

Superintendent Victor Valeski said there would be "accountability for the mistakes." He said a tolerance training program will be in place for the start of the next academic year.

“While I’m grateful that the results of this investigation show that these actions were serious mistakes without malice, we must now focus on repairing the deep hurt and division that has been created in our school and community,” Valeski said.

There could be additional reaction to the report at the Board of Education's meeting scheduled for Thursday. The agenda for the meeting does not include an item about the yearbook but it could be brought up during the public comment section.

ALSO READ: NJ school district apologizes for inappropriate yearbook post

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