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Muslim boy looking for a place to pray
by Andrea Alexander
Rola Awwad wants a private space for her 10-year-old son at Albert Payson Terhune Elementary School to exercise his right to Muslim prayer.
The school district had offered to let him pray at recess — either outside or in a classroom while classmates are there. And that, says Awwad, is "unacceptable."
All students are constitutionally guaranteed the right to pray during the school day as long as it doesn't interfere with learning. But Wayne is struggling with what accommodations to make if a Muslim student requests privacy for prayer.
The answer in other North Jersey districts ranges from providing access to the principal's office, to providing a spare room. But school administrators in suburban Wayne have been weighing the question since fall, when Awwad asked the principal to allow her son, Adam, a few minutes of privacy each afternoon to pray.
The district says it's concerned about allowing a young pupil to be unsupervised, even for a short time, and Awwad said her request was met with resistance.
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