CAIR-NJ Supports Response to Anti-Muslim Quiz at Wayne School, Calls for Diversity Training

(NEWARK, NJ, 6/25/2024) – The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the swift response from school administrators in Wayne, where middle school students were given a quiz containing questions stemming from anti-Muslim bias.

CAIR-NJ also called on administrators to implement meaningful and appropriate trainings to educate faculty and teachers about Islam and Muslims in America.

Late last week, CAIR-NJ received complaints from parents whose children in grade 7 at Schuyler-Colfax Middle School in Wayne, New Jersey, were asked to take a multiple-choice Social Studies quiz containing questions and answers that were anti-Muslim in nature and implications.

One of the anti-Muslim questions asked 7th grade students about the definition of the “Islamic State” and included the “Palestinian Liberation Organization” as a choice to that question.

In a statement, Wayne Township Public Schools Superintendent Mark Toback apologized for the question, saying it was “unacceptable and [does] not reflect the standards we uphold for our educational community.”

“The question was offensive and contrary to our values of respect, inclusivity, and cultural sensitivity,” Toback said. “We understand the deep concern and disappointment this has caused among students, parents, and the broader community.”

Wayne Township Public Schools district officials met with CAIR-NJ and the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) leadership on June 21 to discuss why the quiz was littered with anti-Muslim bias and next steps on how to prevent this matter from happening again.

Such questions presented in a formal school setting absent the appropriate historical context have the potential to perpetuate bigoted and anti-Muslim rhetoric while also fueling negative stereotypes of Muslims. Muslims, like any other group, deserve to attend school without feeling fearful of such insinuations and macro-aggressions.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut welcomed the school district’s response and called on leadership to implement trainings aimed at educating staff about Islam and Muslims.

“Our CAIR-NJ office has been in close communication with the Wayne Township Public Schools district, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue to address this issue. Most importantly, we’ll be working to help Wayne administrators provide staff the tools they need to cultivate a more inclusive and understanding environment for Muslim students in Wayne. 

“We value the district’s commitment to growth. Now, we hope to see administrators take tangible action by implementing more careful and precise diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings to all staff, especially teachers who shape our nation’s young minds.” 

Earlier this year, CAIR released new civil rights data showing that it has received 3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023 amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate.

SEE: 2024 Civil Rights Report: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate  

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Interim Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi, aelamroussi@cair.com, 551-208-5482

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