Fair Lawn Parent Highlights Need for Student Prayer Spaces at School Board Meeting

The recent Fair Lawn School Board meeting focused on topics ranging from religious accommodations for Muslim students to the acknowledgment of donations from parent-teacher organizations.

A significant topic at the meeting was the challenges faced by Muslim students seeking to observe their Friday prayers. A concerned parent shared her son’s experience transitioning from middle school to high school. While he had been allowed to leave for prayers during lunchtime in middle school, the high school structure made this impossible. Missing or being late for class due to religious obligations, she warned, could negatively affect her son’s academic record, especially given the credit system in place at the high school level.

Furthermore, the parent revealed that some students, in their quest for a quiet place to pray, had taken to using locker rooms, which she highlighted as inappropriate for the solemnity of prayers. “Prayers need concentration, and boys or girls locker rooms are not the right places,” she implored. She urged the board to provide a solution, whether in the form of a revised schedule or a dedicated prayer space. Highlighting the broader implications, she pointed out that having dedicated prayer spaces aligns with the board’s mental health initiatives, as the current lack of appropriate spaces affects students’ well-being.

Reacting to her concerns, the board recognized the importance of the issue, assuring that they would examine the intricacies surrounding credits, class time, and religious observances.

On the topic of donations, Rita Fayvelevich, a board member, underscored the necessity of acknowledging all donations, regardless of size. She argued that even smaller contributions should be noted for transparency and for maintaining congruence with the financial records of the PTAs and PTOs, especially for taxation purposes. Another member, Julie Mahan, brought up concerns about potentially overloading parent volunteers with administrative tasks, particularly when small gestures, such as donating snacks, aren’t official PTA or PTO contributions.

The meeting also discussed the intricacies of monetary donations, touching on some confusion related to the transportation costs for a museum trip. Some believed the costs were covered within a $2,500 donation, while others mentioned parents often bear some of these expenses.

Other highlights from the meeting included discussions on improving communication between students and the board using platforms like Instagram and the inauguration of new field lights. The board praised the Rutgers coding program for its efficacy and the convenience of virtual participation. Moreover, updates were provided on the status of the forest playground and the imminent completion of the foreign playground.

The evening began with Acting Superintendent Camille DeFranco praising the successful start of the school year. A somber note was struck as condolences were expressed for Yonaton Bergovici, a student who recently passed away. The district also announced the introduction of Dr. Ruby Dionisio as the new Superintendent.

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