In June, a Snapchat of a female Muslim student with the caption “Isis” was circulated at Colonia High School in New Jersey. Four months later, the student is dismayed to find that the school won’t be taking any disciplinary action against the student who sent it. So she’s trying to make her story go viral.
The student in the Snapchat, Saira Ali, posted a screenshot of the Snapchat to her Facebook in June.
And here’s the caption Ali added:
You might think there’s no hate crime where you live and before ya’know it some ignorant kid from your school makes a video of you at lunch, closes up on your face, calls you ISIS, & then sets it as his snapchat story for everyone to see as if he’s not insulting billions of people. Please excuse me while I teach this kid a lesson.
Now, after a four-month investigation conducted by the school and local police, the student received a letter informing her that “the district did not find evidence supporting a claim of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.” This inspired her to post about the incident on Facebook in hopes that word would get out.
In case you’re not familiar with Snapchat, the social media app lets you send pictures and videos that dissappear after a set period of time. To save them, people often take screenshots, which is what Ali posted on Facebook.
We got in touch with Woodbridge School District Superintendent Robert Zega and he confirmed that the incident did occur last year. He told us the reason for the district’s decision was that neither the school nor the police could identify who sent the Snap.
“Both investigations [from the school and the police] revealed that the Snapchat was taken and sent out in the high school. The problem is we couldn’t find the person who sent it out,” Zega said. “It’s not that it didn’t take place, but in order for there to be bullying, there has to be a bully.”
Several days after posting the Snapchat on her Facebook, Ali added a comment to her initial post that adds another layer to the story.
In it, she claimed school administrators told her not to post about the incident on social media. She says they also assured her that the offender would not come near her again. Administrators recommended she file an official report with the Woodbridge Township Board of Education and the police.
Here’s the comment in full:
Update: The principals never told me what punishment he received. All they told me was that he won’t come near me again, he won’t be in the same room, or lunch room. I’m not sure if he got suspended or not. Although I hope he did. They also told me tha
t I shouldn’t post the situation anywhere on social media because it would just spark the fire more. Although I didn’t take down anything I posted because I don’t intend to keep quiet about such a hate crime.
Also note that this individual is known for being as rebellious as he is. Going to the principal’s office or spending the day in suspension is typical for him.
Also, I witnessed him walking down to the principal’s office with the principal. He looked at me as if I was just another girl in the hall, not the girl he harassed on social media. He’s clearly just taking this as another incident he got in trouble for. He’s not taking it seriously enough. Not even apologetic towards me or anyone he offended with that post.
The vice principal and harassment counselor advised me to fill out a form on Friday that indicated that I was harassed and that it should be taken to the Woodbridge Township Board of Education and possibly the police. If I’m not notified about it soon, I’m gonna take another stand. There’s no way I’m gonna graduate in 10 days and forget all about this without being certain that there were serious consequences that he faced.
Ali did file a report. After the four-month investigation she received this letter from Zega’s office earlier in October.
“The district did not find evidence supporting a claim of harassment, intimidation, or bullying,” the letter reads.
Here’s Ali’s caption from the letter photo.
After 4 months of ‘investigation’ the Woodbridge Township School District has come to the conclusion that when I was unknowingly taken a picture of at lunch, in school, by another student, and posted on snapchat as ‘ISIS????’ I was not ‘harassed, intimidated, or bullied.’ Apparently, according to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, it’s entirely acceptable to take pictures of strangers and post them on social media with derogatory, inaccurate, slurs…I guess this is what the world would be like if Donald Trump ever became president.
“The school and the police rounded up all the people they thought would have information and spoke with them,” Zega explained of the investigation process. “Yes, there was harassment going on, but if you’re looking for someone to be punished, two investigations couldn’t reveal where it came from.”
Since she posted the letter from Woodbridge School District online, thousands of others have started lending their sympathy and support.
“This girl lives in the town next to me,” writes this Twitter user. “Spread this.”
Her request appears to be working. The tweet has been retweeted over 7,500 times in under 24 hours.
We’ve reached out to Saira Ali and will update if we hear back.
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