Parents in south Tel Aviv who are seeking to prevent two Arab girls from attending their children's school are denying accusations of racism, saying they're worried about academic standings. The conflict centers around the Hagalil Elementary School in the Hatikva quarter and began when the Tel Aviv school board decided to enroll the girls, both of whom are neighborhood residents. Even in the country's handful of mixed cities, Jews and Arabs generally prefer to live - and learn - apart. Hatikva has long been a low income area suffering from crime and drug-related ills. An influx of immigrants and foreign workers within the past decade has put long-time residents on guard, and the enrollment of many of the foreign workers' children into area schools has added to the tension. Dismissing charges of racism, a core group of Hagalil parents said they're concerned that the academic level of their children's classes may drop if students who are struggling with Hebrew are integrated. "The school board already dumped the African kids here, and now they're bringing in the Arab kids without even telling us," one mother said. "They can't speak Hebrew well, they're having trouble in class and it's hurting the academic level of the school," she said. "Anyone who doesn't understand why we're so upset... should take a look at other schools in the area," the mother added. "It starts with a few students and all of a sudden parents find that there are dozens of refugees in their schools. It's simply bad for the school." While other parents have called the group's charges blatant racism, its members say they plan to circulate a petition calling on administrators to remove the girls. The Education Ministry said there were no plans to do so, citing the girls' right as Israeli citizens and neighborhood residents to a public education without hindrance. "The students in question are Arab girls who live in the neighborhood and belong in the school, according to the school registration areas," a ministry statement said. "They have the right to attend Hagalil School just as any other student living in the area. The parents' complaints are unjustified."