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Muslim students upset over no 'moment of silence' for New Zealand victims

Muslim students in the Buffalo Public Schools are raising concerns that the district hasn’t properly paid respect to the victims of the recent shootings at two New Zealand mosques.

Students were upset about the mass shootings that killed 50 people March 15 in two mosque attacks in Christchurch, leaving some afraid to attend their own mosques here in Western New York, said Mariya Sami, a student at Leonardo da Vinci High School.

City schools have seen a growing number of Muslim students as more immigrant and refugee families have made their way to Buffalo in recent years.

Sami, the non-voting student representative on the School Board, brought the issue to the attention of the board this week. When she asked the principal about a moment of silence for the victims, Sami said, she was told that directive had to come from district administrators at City Hall.

“A lot of students are wondering why we didn’t do a moment of silence in Buffalo Public Schools,” Sami said. “They just felt left out.”

“I apologize that you feel that way,” Superintendent Kriner Cash told her, “and I’m going to see what I can do to tie that part together so the wound doesn’t stay open.”

Board members acknowledged that the gesture would have been appropriate, and that principals should have enough authority to do something like that in their schools when the need arises.

“And they do have that flexibility,” Cash said.

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