The State Comptroller’s Report aimed scathing criticism at the Education
Ministry for its actions, or lack thereof, in determining procedures for
accepting girls to haredi state-funded schools and overseeing existent
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The absence of clear and transparent guidelines can, and does,
lead to racial discrimination in that educational system, the report determined,
and called on the ministry to make “real changes” in how it supervises those
The report examined the registration of girls to elementary
and secondary schools in the recognizedbut- unofficial schools’ haredi sector,
and the manner in which they were assigned to the various
These schools are funded by the state, either partially or
The Comptroller’s Office held a nationwide examination between
February and August last year in the Education Ministry, the Ashkenazi- haredi
Independent Educational System and the Beit Yaakov schools in Israel.
Supplementary inspections were held in the cities of Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beit
Shemesh and Modi’in Illit. Representatives of the State Comptroller’s Office
were also at 14 schools – eight elementary and six secondary – in which the
demand surpassed available space.
In the background to the comptroller’s
examination, as the report states, was the recurring claims of a lack of
fairness in accepting girls from different ethnic backgrounds to the haredi
The topic recently peaked with the Emmanuel ruling, where
the High Court of Justice in 2009 decreed that the Beit Yaakov school had
discriminated against Sephardi girls.
By law, local authorities are
responsible for the registration in the haredi recogn i z e d - b u t - u n o f
f i c i a l schools, but it is the Education Ministry that is tasked with
supervising the institutions, including the acceptance to them, to ensure the
principle of equal opportunity is applied.
The report found that the
number of supervisors was far below the ministry’s own standards, creating a
situation in which successful supervision would be highly unlikely.
addition, despite the fact that the ministry issued in 2006 and the following
year letters regarding registration and acceptance to such schools, the ministry
never turned the content of these documents into guidelines, or issued the
information in the form of a director- general’s directive.
report notes that one of the aforementioned letters is accessible on the
Education Ministry's website, that is not a medium necessarily accessible to the
The report states that every recognized-but-unofficial
state girls’ school has a regulation code, which entails the appropriate
behavior, dress code and so forth. In 2006, the Education Ministry checked the
content of these regulations in 86 institutions, and determined that changes
must be made in 60 of them, such as prohibiting the acceptance only of girls
whose mothers were graduates of Beit Yaakov and whose fathers of “the holy
yeshivot”; to delete the passages detailing the parents’ dress code; and to
remove prohibitions, such as that the girls may not attend their friends’
The State Comptroller’s Office checked to see whether
the changes had indeed been made in six schools. None had, which according to
the report is testimony of the ministry’s weak supervision over such
The report also pointed a finger at the Jerusalem Municipality
department for haredi education, which didn’t fill its role in supervising
registration to the city’s schools, didn’t take care to examine whether they
accept girls according to any clear and known criteria, nor demand of the
schools to present such guidelines. Similar criticism was aimed at Bnei Brak,
where the municipality does not oversee acceptance procedures for secondary
schools, and Modi’in Illit.
Addressing one of the most painful issues in
the Sephardi haredi world, the report states that “Haredi secondary schools for
girls have a quota system, which was expounded upon in a Jerusalem District
Court ruling from 2006, according to which senior Ashkenazi adjudicator Rabbi
Shalom Yosef Elyashiv issued an order that at least 30 percent of the girls
accepted by any secondary school be of Sephardi origin.”
however, the report noted that the 30% quota was the maximum limit in Jerusalem.
Regarding Modi’in Illit, the report chastises the municipality for ignoring the
complaint of a resident who in 2009 charged that his daughter was rejected from
a school because of her ethnic background, and slams the Education Ministry for
taking nearly a year to deal with the claim.
“The findings are fertile
grounds from which racial discrimination can grow,” the report says, and rejects
the claim from within the institutions that the presence of Sephardi girls in
the schools is evidence to there being no racial segregation.
selection processes to these schools might have enabled more girls of this
ethnic origin to be accepted,” the report reads.
“The Education Ministry
must make real changes in its supervision over enrollment to the haredi schools
and being accepted to them,” the report says.
It names the actions that
must be taken to that end: “Determine clear rules for these procedures and make
them public; accommodate the role of the ministry’s inspectors to the unique
framework of the haredi schools; enhance the presence of supervisors in these
schools; receive regular updates from the [municipalities’ haredi educational
sector] regarding the implementation of these procedures.”
Ministry responded to the report by noting that 15 new supervisors to the haredi
educational system were recently recruited, and stated its intent to add 30 in
the next two years. The ministry also noted its intent to tighten its
supervision over the schools acceptance procedures, and consider conducting
head-counts to see how many girls from which ethnic background apply and are
accepted or rejected to each school. “If we see that the state comptroller is
right in saying that there are quotas employed by schools, we will apply
sanctions according to the law.”
Also on Tuesday, Shas introduced public
two bills to prevent racial discrimination in haredi schools. The movement said
it would fight against any attempt to enable a haredi educational system based
on anti-Jewish and anti-educational principles.
“The State Comptroller’s
Report is important; even before it, Shas proposed two bills to curb and
denounce discrimination. The first would put a school principal not accepting
students in danger of losing his institution’s legal status, and the second
would dictate a regional system,” in which a student would be accepted to a
school based on his or her geographical proximity to it.
were indeed mentioned by Shas MKs earlier this year. A spokesman for the
movement explained that their being placed on the Knesset’s table today was not
because of the report; the bills were awaiting the approval of Shas’s Council of
Torah Sages that came just now, he said.