Compromise imminent in pirate school

Parties to meet in attempt at compromise on integration of Emmanuel Beit Yaakov school.

By DAN IZENBERG, JONAH MENDEL
May 31, 2010 16:29
3 minute read.
Emmanuel school parents

Emmanuel Parents in Color. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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All of the parties involved in the conflict over the integration of the Beit Yaakov school in Emmanuel are due to meet on Monday in the office of Education Ministry director-general Shimshon Shoshani for one last attempt to reach a compromise agreement on the integration of the school.

Last year, the High Court of Justice accepted a petition by Yoav Lalom and the Naar Kahalacha non-profit organization demanding that the Hassidic families, which had established a separate school with separate classes, a separate entrance, separate teachers’ rooms and separate school uniforms, must remove all elements of discrimination from the school.

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Soon afterwards, the Hassidic parents removed their daughters from the school and established an unauthorized institution. Several weeks ago, they agreed to return to the Beit Yaakov school in the wake of court hearings on a contempt of court action filed by the petitioners.

In the past few days, however, the Hassidic children have disappeared again. After missing school altogether for a day or two, their parents, based on instructions from their rabbis in the Slonim hassidic sect, sent their children on Sunday to Beit Malka, a primary haredi girls’ school in B’nei Brak.

However, according to haredi sources, Beit Malka told the families after one day that they could not return because the school principle was afraid he might also be found in contempt of court for helping the children and their parents sidestep the court decision ordering them to return to the school in Emmanuel.

The dispute between the parents and the petitioners today revolves around the terms of the reintegration of the school. Originally, the parents told the court they would agree to send their children back to the school, and would allow any other child to join the Hassidic stream, as long they every agreed to certain conditions of behavior, dress, social and family relations and other restrictions.

Immediately afterwards, however, they insisted that the “integrated” Hassidic stream would continue to remain completely separate from the other stream at the school. The difference was that any child could join the supposedly integrated Hassidic stream if she accepted the restrictions.

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The petitioners refused the arrangement. They insisted on a single, integrated school which could have a few special, separate classes, where different groups of students could study their own particular background and culture, but that there would be only stream and that in most of the classes, there would be no differentiation among students. Together with the Independent Education Center, which administers the school, they drew up a set of regulations regarding conduct and other matters which would apply uniformly to all the students and their parents.

However, the Hassidic parents rejected the regulations. They said they would agree to a single, integrated school on condition that the regulations were made far more stringent than those proposed by the petitioners and the Independent Education Center.

Monday’s meeting at the Education Ministry is meant to reach a compromise on this matter between the disputing parties.

In a decision handed down on May 17, the High Court demanded that all the parties submit updates on the situation by June 1. But the court also made clear in that decision that “now that the girls in the ‘Hassidic stream’ have returned to the school, the Independent Education Center must take steps to merge the streams. If it fails to do so, it will be fined NIS 10,000 a day until all the girls, Hassidic and Sephardi, study in one stream. As for the Hassidic parents, they will have to declare by May 25 that they will continue to send their children to the school even after the streams are merged. If they do not, they will pay a fine of NIS 200 per parent each day until June 1. If they continue to refuse after this date, the court will consider sending recalcitrant parents to jail.”

Immediately after the deadline for receiving the updates, the High Court will rule on whether the current position and actions of the parties and the conduct of the parents over the past two weeks constitute contempt of court. Since the children are once again out of school, it is hard to imagine that with regard to the parents, the court could decide otherwise.

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