Empire State Building lit green for Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, July 17, 2015. .
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO / BRIGITTE DUSSEAU)
NEW YORK – The ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America welcomed a new measure passed by the New York City Council, which will reimburse the city’s nonpublic schools for expenses related to hiring, training and wages for unarmed private security guards.
The bill was introduced by Jewish Democrat Councilman David Greenfield and states that schools eligible for reimbursement of security expenses have to be “non-profit schools in New York City with 300 or more enrolled students, providing instruction in accordance with the Education Law and serving students in any combination of grades pre-kindergarten through 12.”
These schools include yeshivas across the city.
In order to obtain reimbursement, the security guards must be registered with the state, paid the prevailing wage and supplements, as determined by the state labor laws, and be trained for work in elementary schools.
“The number of security guards provided to each school will be based on the number of students,” the council wrote in a statement.
“Schools would be required to apply for the reimbursement and to provide appropriate documentation to support reimbursement requests.”
Greenfield said he is proud of the bill and called Monday “a historic day for children’s safety.”
“This monumental legislation recognizes that every child, regardless of where they go to school – whether public or private, secular or religious – deserves to learn in a safe environment,” he said.
“Coming on the heels of two anti-Semitic crimes in my district last week and a rise of religious bias crimes in New York City, this legislation is more important than ever.”
He thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio for “recognizing that all schoolchildren need security and taking a bold step in protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers.”
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who cosponsored the bill said that “students across our city deserve a safe learning environment, no matter what community they come from or where they attend school.”
“With this bill, we’re reaffirming that message and showing our commitment to all students in New York City,” she continued.
Agudath Israel of America, which actively supported the bill along with the United Jewish Appeal – Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and other Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups, called its adoption is “a tremendous achievement.”
“Parents of nonpublic school children throughout the city will now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that, at a time when the world has become increasingly dangerous, their precious children are afforded a serious measure of protection,” executive vice president of the organization, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel said on Monday.
Close to $20 million have been allocated to reimburse the affected schools. An additional security officer will be provided for a nonpublic school with 500 pupils, with one additional officer per subsequent 500.
Agudath Israel’s director for education affairs Deborah Zachai said that “this is a bill whose time has come.”
“We are looking forward to working with the city on the bill’s implementation,” she added.