Lawsuit over amendment shielding some Jewish schools tossed
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed an advocacy group’s lawsuit over a New York state lawmaker’s attempt to shield ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools from oversight.
U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser ruled late Wednesday that the group Young Advocates for Fair Education, or YAFFED lacks standing to sue over the so-called Felder amendment.
The group sued Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state education officials in July 2018 over State Sen. Simcha Felder’s amendment that effectively moved oversight of the ultra-Orthodox schools from local school districts to the state.
Members of the group say some of the ultra-Orthodox schools, called yeshivas, provide little or no instruction in secular subjects including English, math, science and social studies. They say some young people leave the schools barely able to read or write in English despite a New York state law that mandates that private schools provide an education substantially equivalent to the public schools.
Under new guidelines on the substantial equivalency rule released by the state education department last November, all private schools including religious schools are supposed to be inspected by local public school authorities every five years.
Glasser implied in his ruling that the new state guidelines might render the group’s lawsuit moot. He said that under the new guidelines, the schools covered by the Felder amendment will be required to comply with “all of the same curriculum and hour requirements applicable to other private schools” and will face additional requirements related to the religious portion of the schools’ curriculum.
Naftuli Moster, the founder of the advocacy group, said he disagreed. “The revised guidelines embody the separate and preferential treatment of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, regardless of how the leaders of those schools feel about the guidelines,” Moster said in a statement. He said the group will press forward “in reforming the unjust system.”
The pro-yeshiva group Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools said it applauded Glasser’s decision. “YAFFED’s campaign of harassment of the yeshivas must end,” the group said in a statement.