(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
An agreement to overturn what many viewed as discriminatory acceptance practices at haredi girls’ high schools in Elad was reached on Wednesday, after over 100 pupils found themselves without a school to attend ahead of the new academic year.
In July, the parents of more than 100 girls discovered that their daughters had not been accepted to either of the two haredi high schools for girls in the city – Lada’at Hochma and Zleznik – apparently based on a policy of accepting only girls whose fathers did not work full-time.
Ahead of the 2014/15 academic year, 118 girls applied to the Zleznik Seminar school, 93 of them Sephardi and 25 Ashkenazi. Of the Sephardi applicants, only five gained admission; all 25 of the Ashkenazi pupils were accepted.
The Education Ministry intervened following legal objections by the Noar K’halacha anti-discrimination NGO and forced the school to annul the registrations and reopen the application process.
Zleznik did so, and this time 23 of the 41 Sephardi girls who applied were accepted. However, the administration then established a new school for Ashkenazi students at a different site, without the Sephardi girls.
The Education Ministry then presented the Zleznik school with a closure order, since it had failed to comply with the ministry’s regulations, but police never enforced the order.
This year, both Zleznik and Lada’at Hochma reportedly changed their registration policies and refused admission to girls whose fathers worked for a living outside of the haredi education sector. This meant the rejection of some 100 ninth-grade girls, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi, leaving them without a school in the new academic year.
Noar K’halacha petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to force the Elad City Council to annul the registration process and place all of the city’s ninth-grade girls in the two schools based on educational merits alone.
On Wednesday, the Elad Municipality, Zleznik and Lada’at Hochma came to a compromise agreement with Noar K’halacha, in which the original registration results will remain as they are, but the unplaced pupils will be assigned to either one of the two schools.
For the 2016/17 academic year, registration will be on a geographical basis, ensuring that no girls endure discrimination for any reason.
Judge Irit Cohen authorized the agreement, giving it the imprimatur of a court decision, Noar K’halacha head Yoav Laloum told the Haredim 10 website after the agreement in court that discrimination had been defeated for this year and that a precedent for regional registration had been established for the next academic year.
Shas chairman and Economy Minister Arye Deri, meanwhile, welcomed the agreement and said the model should be implemented around the country.
“Only in this way will the unnecessary anguish of school girls and their families be prevented,” said Deri