Indictments against parents who kept kids from school canceled

Criminal indictments against 41 Haifa parents, who have not sent their children to school since September, were dismissed Tuesday by a Haifa Magistrates Court on the grounds that the summons had not been served legally. However, Sawsan Zaher, attorney for the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, who is representing the parents of Hiwar, Israel's only democratic Arab school, said this was not the end of the battle with the Haifa Municipality. "There is still an option for the municipality to reissue the indictments in the correct manner," she said following the hearing. Mai Haddad, one of those striking, said the parents were delighted by the ruling and hoped that the authorities would now consider them equal partners for dialogue. "I hope that both parties will now be able to sit down and talk about what is best for our children," she said. "I hope they will realize now that we are not intimidated easily and we will go through with this to the end." The parents claimed that the municipality was trying to change the nature of the school and force them to use a sub-standard building. Since September, the children have been learning in an ad hoc, private framework set up by the striking parents. The Haifa Municipality says the building meets Education Ministry standards and has repeatedly asked the parents to return their children to the school.