Iman Abdulrazzak, an observant Muslim, realized at the last minute that she needed special permission to wear her headscarf while taking the Massachusetts bar exam. She scrambled to fax her request for an exemption to the ban on hats and other headwear. She called the board's office in Boston repeatedly to make sure it got through.
No one said anything about her headscarf when she arrived at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield to take the high-stakes test to become a lawyer Aug. 1. But halfway through the morning session, a proctor placed a note on her desk: "Head wear may not be worn during the examination without prior written approval. . . . Please remove your head wear and place it under your desk for the afternoon session."
"I was like, 'Do I leave now? Is it even worth continuing?' " said Abdulrazzak, of Pittsfield, who is 24 and has worn the hijab since she was 12. "For 10 minutes, I was terribly confused. I tried telling one of the proctors that I had authorization — he kind of shushed me."