East Brunswick Superintendent Seeks to Validate "Gross Lack of Oversight"

At the East Brunswick Board of Education meeting June 6, 2024, Superintendent, Dr. Victor Valeski, said the board had concluded its internal investigation of how a high school yearbook photo now identified as a group of Muslim students had been placed in the space intended and labeled to show the Jewish Student Association photo - among other alterations and omissions pertaining to representation of the Jewish Student Association in the book.

Calling the cause of the incident a "gross lack of oversight," based on the conclusions of an internal investigation, he went on to announce, "We will now initiate a special council investigation by an outside investigator to validate what we have already seen and to draw a conclusion - a thorough, fair conclusion that we can deliver to the community."

Many of the hundreds of attendees present at the meeting shared among themselves afterward and during the public comment period of the meeting, that they wondered why the superintendent was not sharing details of the internal investigation and why an external investigation was needed.

After the superintendent claimed he and the board have "taken seriously" the response from students and the community to the yearbook incident, the public comment period gave voice to people identifying with the Jewish Student Association and people identifying with the Muslim Student Association providing numerous accounts of East Brunswick schools failing to reckon with a long-standing and systemic history of antisemitism and Islamophobia, respectively.

Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey reiterates its call for East Brunswick school and board of education officials to obtain, in their investigation, all such files that retrace content and approvals at every stage of the production process, including but not limited to:

  • The “final draft” presented from the student committee for approval by faculty advisor(s)
  • Faculty advisor approval
  • The production file transmitted to the printer
  • The printer's proof transmitted back to EBHS for review
  • Approval from EBHS contact giving printer "go-ahead" to print the books

In speaking to NJ12 TV before the board meeting, Jewish Federation’s Chief Communications Officer, Lisa Karasic, noted that many digital publishing and communications systems today can also identify who has last touched a particular file. 

Further, Jewish Federation calls on the superintendent and appropriate board officials to return to conversations with Jewish Federation and Jewish community families affected by antisemitism and its mishandling in East Brunswick schools to construct a path forward and correct the district's, schools', administrators', and teachers' unacceptable missteps of the past, including dismissing one student's report of antisemitism - not once, but twice - saying the student 'wasn't offended enough.'

And we call on the New Jersey State Legislature to cease in its delays and cancellations of its votes on [S1292] and [S2937].

[S1292] helps people responsible for recognizing and responding to antisemitism understand what constitutes antisemitism through adoption of a standard definition of antisemitism. 

[S2937] ensures that, if a public entity is using DEI-based standards, then the standards must include Jewish people – which current public DEI initiatives do not. 

While it is true that we will never legislate away hate or generations of baked-in bias, these bills provide guardrails to support school leaders who otherwise lack the education, themselves, or the moral compass, courage, or acumen to do the right thing at the right time.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we call on East Brunswick schools to do better at seizing opportunities - in fact, the urgent need - to teach critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical skills, civics, and history. The failure to parse details to accurately reflect events as they unfolded, the muddying of issues, conflating of facts, lack of regard for timelines, blanket statements, misrepresentations, false equivalencies, and crafting narratives to conform with preconceived hypotheses or biases was on full display at the June 6 board of education meeting, on social media surrounding the yearbook incident, and in fact long before and far beyond the yearbook incident.  


June 6, 2024: Alum Points to East Brunswick High School History of Antisemitism READ

June 4, 2024: Demanding Facts and Accountability in East Brunswick Yearbook Matter READ 


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