Compromise imminent in pirate school

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

Emmanuel Parents in Color (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Emmanuel Parents in Color
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
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.
Soon afterwards, the Hassidic parents removed their daughters from theschool and established an unauthorized institution. Several weeks ago,they agreed to return to the Beit Yaakov school in the wake of courthearings on a contempt of court action filed by the petitioners.
In the past few days, however, the Hassidic children have disappearedagain. 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 familiesafter one day that they could not return because the school principlewas afraid he might also be found in contempt of court for helping thechildren and their parents sidestep the court decision ordering them toreturn to the school in Emmanuel.
The dispute between the parents and the petitioners today revolvesaround the terms of the reintegration of the school. Originally, theparents told the court they would agree to send their children back tothe school, and would allow any other child to join the Hassidicstream, 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 theother stream at the school. The difference was that any child couldjoin the supposedly integrated Hassidic stream if she accepted therestrictions.
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 particularbackground and culture, but that there would be only stream and that inmost of the classes, there would be no differentiation among students.Together with the Independent Education Center, which administers theschool, they drew up a set of regulations regarding conduct and othermatters which would apply uniformly to all the students and theirparents.
However, the Hassidic parents rejected the regulations. They said theywould agree to a single, integrated school on condition that theregulations were made far more stringent than those proposed by thepetitioners 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 allthe parties submit updates on the situation by June 1. But the courtalso made clear in that decision that “now that the girls in the‘Hassidic stream’ have returned to the school, the IndependentEducation Center must take steps to merge the streams. If it fails todo so, it will be fined NIS 10,000 a day until all the girls, Hassidicand Sephardi, study in one stream. As for the Hassidic parents, theywill have to declare by May 25 that they will continue to send theirchildren to the school even after the streams are merged. If they donot, 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 considersending recalcitrant parents to jail.”
Immediately after the deadline for receiving the updates, the HighCourt will rule on whether the current position and actions of theparties and the conduct of the parents over the past two weeksconstitute contempt of court. Since the children are once again out ofschool, it is hard to imagine that with regard to the parents, thecourt could decide otherwise.