EAST BRUNSWICK — The schools superintendent believes it was a mistake — not an antisemitic intent — that was to blame for the names of Jewish students being left of the yearbook and their organization's photo replaced with one of Muslim students.

The yearbook included a listing for the Jewish Student Union with a picture of Muslim students. Unlike other club listings, member names were not included.

The apparent snub triggered a firestorm of controversy from both Jewish and Muslim students and community members.

Schools Superintendent Victor Valeski said that an investigation so far shows a communications breakdown may have led to the omission. He does not believe the omission was an "intentional act or a subvert act."

Valeski said the yearbook club asked the Jewish Student Union for the names of its members but did not receive a response.  The club is a "non-paid club" and there is no formal list of members. Valeski explained the term means that the club is student-led and the faculty monitor is not paid.

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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),
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Exposing other issues at EBHS

The yearbook editors could not find a picture of the Jewish Student Union. Valeski said that it is up to yearbook club members to name and file the photos they submit but an adult takes the final step of adding the photo to the layout.

Just who was tasked to perform the final review and edit of the page is still to be determined, the superintendent said.

In a statement on the district website, Valeski said a new page was printed that included a photo of the Jewish Student Union and the names of its members. New pages have been inserted at no charge into yearbooks that were returned or not distributed. Publisher Varisty Yearbooks will also be at Wednesday's Senior Send Off to replace the page, according to the superintendent.

Valeski said that beyond the yearbook issue, he also wants to address the concerns of the "pain" felt by both Jewish and Muslim students raised at Thursday's Board of Education meeting.

"We are investigating cooperative learning tolerance programs intended to address the issues we heard last night," he said.

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