Piscataway Superintendent Accepts Responsibility for Altering Muslim Student Group Photo – Promises Measures to Address – Press Release / Report of June 13 Meeting

Community Members Address Removal of Palestinian Flag from Yearbook at Board of Education Meeting

FightBackBetter appreciates the mention by this TapInto report. We did help amplify the message but it was certainly the local stakeholders on this issue that brought about this apparent positive result. Congrats to all!

The following is a comment from a local community member involved in organizing a community response to this travesty:

It is sad to see that this happened and I’m hopeful that Dr. Ranelli will take the right steps in remedying the issue, speaking with students that were directly impacted. We urge the district to take action regarding the yearbook and all the disgusting anti-Arab and Islamophobic behavior at the district immediately. 

Piscataway, NJ – June 14, 2024
 – Last night, the Piscataway Board of Education (BOE) meeting drew a significant crowd of parents, students, and community members outraged by the recent removal of the Palestinian flag from the Muslim Student Association’s (MSA) yearbook photo. The issue, which had been escalating since the yearbooks were distributed on May 30, 2024, was a focal point of the meeting.

Key Points from the Meeting:

1. Timeline of Events:
   – December 15, 2023: Club pictures were taken for the yearbook.
   – May 30, 2024: Yearbooks were printed and distributed.
   – June 6, 2024: The yearbook issue was raised at a township council meeting, with the community advised to address the BOE.
   – June 7, 2024: Students confirmed with the yearbook advisor that the administration had decided to remove the flag.

2. Board of Education Meeting Highlights:
   – Superintendent’s Statement: Dr. Frank Ranelli acknowledged a breakdown in communication regarding the decision to remove the flag. He explained that he considered the flag “political” and apologized for the poor communication.
   – Student Testimonies: Ammar Khan, a 12th-grade student, and Jannah Abousalem, an 11th-grade student, were among the few that shared their experiences and the impact of microaggressions at Piscataway High School.
   – Community Response: Parent Khaled Zayed, representing American Muslims for Palestine, and others expressed their disappointment and called for action.
   – Administration’s Commitment: Dr. Ranelli took full responsibility for the decision, acknowledged that he was educated through this meeting, and expressed a commitment to “make it right.”

Next Steps:
Dr. Ranelli, with the support of the Board of Education, is set to work with the MSA to address the concerns raised. 

Video Recording:
The full recording of the BOE meeting is available at the following link:

Key timestamps include:
– 1:20:17: Dr. Ranelli discusses communication breakdown.
– 1:22:27: Apology and explanation from Dr. Ranelli.
– 1:29:44: Testimony from Ammar Khan.
– 1:49:14: Testimony from Jannah Abousalem.
– 2:42:38: Dr. Ranelli’s post-public comment remarks and Board reactions.
– 2:48:42: Board President’s statement on Dr. Ranelli’s responsibility.
– 2:50:14: Audience member heckling on First Amendment rights.

Contact Information:
– Parent Representative:
 Khaled Zayed, American Muslims for Palestine,
– Student Representative: Maaz Motiwala, Vice President of MSA,

For further questions or concerns, please feel free to respond to this email. 

### End of Release

More info: 

Previously Reported June 12:
Piscataway District Alters Student Photo to Remove Palestine Flag – Demand Answers @ Board Meeting 6/13 7:15 pm

We are looking for more details on this repressive act by Piscataway School board and for now urge all to attend the meeting and call out this travesty.

Please attend Board meeting at 1515 Stelton Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854, Thursday, 6/13 7:15pm

Editor’s note – it would seem that they also removed the two students holding the flag in the process!

FightBackBetter Writes Board and Admin on this Topic

—–Original Message—–
From: Bob Witanek <>
Sent: Jun 12, 2024 3:35 PM
To: <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>
Cc: <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>
Subject: Racist Doctoring of Muslim Student Photo Condemned

Dear Piscataway School Board,

As the editor of I hereby condemn the racist doctoring of the Muslim student club photo – specifically the removal of the Palestine flag.  I understand that it was permitted for a pro-Israel teacher to actually advocate for Israel by adorning the Israel flag in the hallways.  That in itself is a misuse of her position and a misuse of that school’s administrative function to allow the school to be used to boost US policy of arming Israel.  That was far more influencing of the student body than for the Muslim students in the setting of a photo shoot and in the year book – to show the flag that represents the struggle to end genocide and the suffering of 100s of 1000s of Gazans.

I pulled this list of e-mail accounts and was impressed at the Black and Arab leadership of the school board if I can tell as much from the pictures.  That being said it is hard to imagine how Piscataway would make this racist decision to actually doctor the flag.

Were the students notified beforehand?  Was the faculty advisor?  Did the principal decide this?  Who made the decision?  Based upon what discussion with whom?

You have negated the identity of a significant student base – not only the Arab and Muslim students but all of those students who are humanitarian.

What racist decision making and racist influencers are we allowing our decisions to be manipulated by?

Board members need to find their voice and there needs to be accountability – the administrators or teachers need severe consequences for this racist act.

What are you going to do about it!

This letter is published at this link:

Bob Witanek

Editor FightBackBetter.