Mayors feud over kindergarten space

Tel Aviv to look into allegations that some Ramat Hasharon parents are providing fictitious addresses in order to enroll their children in north Tel Aviv kindergartens.

Itzik Rochberger 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Itzik Rochberger 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The city of Tel Aviv has hired a private investigator to look into allegations that some Ramat Hasharon parents are providing fictitious addresses in order to enroll their children in north Tel Aviv kindergartens, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. And the investigation has prompted Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger to launch a tirade against Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, accusing him of being a "megalomaniac" and jealous of his neighboring city. According to the report, Ramat Hasharon's new Neveh Gan neighborhood, which adjoins Tel Aviv's northern Tel Baruch area, lacks kindergartens, and Neveh Gan parents have allegedly been providing fictitious addresses so they can enroll their children in kindergartens in north Tel Baruch. But Tel Aviv is itself suffering from a severe shortage of kindergartens, and the municipality has decided to investigate the allegations and to expel children with fake addresses. "The first priority is to worry about residents in [Tel Aviv's] neighborhoods," said a Tel Aviv municipal lawyer. "But a situation has been created in which we can't take care of them physically [because of a shortage of kindergarten spaces]. We will remove from the kindergartens all the children whose parents falsified addresses." The lawyer added that making a false declaration was an offense punishable by a fine or imprisonment. Ramat Hasharon officials were surprised to hear of the allegations and of the investigation, and Rochberger was incensed. "The behavior of the mayor of Tel Aviv toward our neighborhood, which is currently being built, is an outrage," Rochberger said. "With all due respect to him, this man imagines himself as the Pope, who goes and sets up an investigative committee in the Vatican... We are speaking about a megalomaniac who is eating his heart out because we have managed to create a luxurious, high-quality neighborhood with all the infrastructure, while he is asking for Ramat Hasharon lands to be allocated to Tel Aviv." Rochberger added that two kindergartens would be created in Neveh Gan in September this year, and a school was currently being planned. In the meantime, students would be transported free to other schools in Ramat Hasharon. Huldai reportedly refused to comment on Rochberger's criticisms. Meanwhile, in a separate article, the newspaper reports that a private investigator hired by the Tel Aviv Municipality has found 14 cases of parents faking addresses in order to get their children into particular schools. The city says this is three times the number of fakes it found the previous year, and that it will expel the children and may take legal action against their parents. According to the report, the fakes were found at the Rokach and Gordon schools, both of which have good reputations and are much in demand. Parents living on streets outside the schools' catchment areas presented false rental contracts to show that they lived inside the schools' districts. A municipal spokeswoman said that while some parents were willing to take a risk to get their children into better schools, they should be aware of the consequences.