Court to hear Emmanuel parents, teachers

Special hearing to be held on issue of "pirate" school.

The High Court of Justice is to hold a special hearing on Thursday in the case of the “pirate” Ashkenazi school in the haredi town of Emmanuel, which is operating in violation of a ruling by the court.
In a decision handed down on April 7, the High Court invited parents who are sending their children to the illegal school, and teachers who are teaching in it, to testify before the court and justify their actions.
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The pirate school was established following a High Court ruling on August 6, 2009, which ordered the Ministry of Education, the Emmanuel local council and the Independent Education Center to stop operating two separate schools in the same building: one for Sephardim, and one – the “hassidic stream” – for Ashkenazim and for Sephardim prepared to conduct themselves according to Ashkenazi-haredi custom.
The Independent Education Center is an unofficial but recognized school system operated by the hassidic Agudat Yisrael organization.
At the time of the petition, the pupils in the separate institutions entered the building by separate doors, studied in separate parts of the building, wore different school uniforms and were prohibited from playing together during recess.
After the court ruling, the parents of the Ashkenazi stream withdrew their children from the school and set up their own, unauthorized school.
Six months after the High Court handed down its original decision to merge the two institutions, the petitioners, the Noar Kahalacha organization, and its head, Yoav Lalom, asked the court to rule that the respondents were in contempt of court. They are represented by attorney Aviad Hacohen, dean of Shaarei Mishpat Law College in Hod Hasharon.
On April 7, the court ordered the Independent Education Center to pay a fine of NIS 5,000 for every day that it violated the ruling to merge the schools.
“We declare,” wrote Justices Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel and Hanan Meltzer,“that [the center] is violating the High Court ruling. This violationexpresses itself, inter alia, in that the Independent Education Centerallowed pupils who studied in the ‘hassidic stream’ in the Beit Ya’acovschool in Emmanuel prior to the High Court ruling not to show up tocontinue their studies after the ruling was handed down. In so doing,the Independent Education Center helped thwart the ruling, which calledfor removing any sign of discrimination whatsoever current in theschool.”
Since the parents and teachers were not directly represented in thepetition, the court decided to allow them to plead on their own behalfbefore deciding whether to also hold them in contempt of court.
“In the context of this hearing, each parent will be required toexplain why he does not regard himself as an accomplice in theviolation of the ruling, or the holding of the court in contempt, whichwould make him liable to imprisonment or a fine... Each parent willalso be asked to explain why he stopped sending his son or daughter toschool,” the justices said.
The court also asked the same of the teachers at the pirate school.
According to the petitioners, there are 68 girls studying at the original Beit Ya’acov school and 77 at the pirate school.