The haredi parents of the girls enrolled in the Beit Ya’acov primary school in Emmanuel have rejected the new school regulations drawn up by the Independent Education Center (Hinuch Atzma’i) and informed the Education Ministry that they will only send their children back to school if stricter regulations are adopted, their lawyer, Mordechai Green, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
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Green added that if the regulations are changed to their satisfaction, the parents who had withdrawn their daughters will send their children back to school and have them study with the Sephardi girls.
According to a decision by the High Court of Justice last week, each of the parents was supposed to submit a letter by Monday to the Education Ministry promising to obey a court ruling handed down on August 6, 2009, rejecting all forms of discrimination in the school.
For the past several years, the hassidic parents had refused to have their daughters study in mixed classes with Sephardi girls and set up a separate school in the same building, claiming that their children lived by stricter standards than the Sephardi ones. This arrangement officially came to an end in the wake of the High Court ruling, which ruled that it was discriminatory.
As a result, many parents pulled their girls out of the school, and sent them to learn in an unauthorized school during most of the current school year.
Attorney Aviad Hacohen represents Yoav Lalom and the Noar Kahalacha nonprofit organization, who petitioned against the segregated arrangement.
When the hassidic parents refused to obey the ruling, Lalom and Noar Kahalacha asked the High Court to hold the parents and the Independent Education Center in contempt of court.
Last week, the court gave the Independent Education Center and the parents until May 24 to notify it that they agreed to establish a single integrated school without separate tracks, and with one set of regulations for everyone.
Regarding the parents, Justices Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel and Hanan Meltzer wrote, “All of the parents [in the hassidic stream]…will present to the Education Ministry by May 24, a statement in writing regarding their commitment to refrain from violating the court ruling. In the statement, they will also declare that they will send their girls to studies in the school even after the two ‘streams’ are united. Obviously, they must also carry out their promise.
“If any of the parents do not submit this declaration, they will have to pay, starting from May 25, a fine of NIS 200 per day (NIS 400 for two parents) until they stop violating the ruling. Furthermore, we warn the parents that if it emerges that they continue to violate the court ruling after May 31, we will consider forcing them to obey even by issuing arrest orders.”
According to Green, the parents submitted a document to the Education Ministry on Monday promising that they would return their children to the school and not demand separate streams on condition that the set of regulations drafted by the Independent Education Center would be made stricter.
“We respect the court ruling and we will agree to send our children to school if the regulations are made stricter,” Green said. “This condition does not really clash with the court order.”
The question is, how much more stringent must the regulations be to satisfy the hassidic parents. These parents have demanded that girls adhere to a particularly stringent dress code, that they do not associate with non-haredi friends or family and various other restrictions.
Green told the Post
he hoped that the parents’ letter would be acceptable to the court for the time being and that it would not impose a fine, while negotiations continue in an effort to reach agreement on the school regulations.
However, he added that he was not optimistic that the petitioners would accept the parents’ proposal.
“In truth, I don’t see us reaching a solution,” he said. “But I am trying as hard as I can to make it happen.”
As for the Independent Education Center, the Education Ministry, which is administratively responsible for it, informed the court that it had sent letters to all the parents informing them that as of May 24, their children would have to return to the school, where there would only be one stream. It also sent them a copy of the school’s new regulations.
Hacohen, representing the petitioners, informed the state that it accepted the regulations “in order to bring about peace.”
Education Ministry also informed the court that it intended to make one
last stab next week at reaching an agreement with all the parties to
the dispute, that is the Independent Education Center, the hassidic
parents, the ministry and the petitioners, and would inform the court
of the results of this attempt.
Green warned that if the
negotiations fail, matters will come to a head after June 1, when the
court is expected to make a final decision on whether or not to apply
severe sanctions against the parents and/or the Independent Education
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