In a February 6 letter, New York State’s Department of Education’s the Assistant Commissioner James DeLorenzo reportedly stands by the state’s findings that the haredi-controled East Ramapo school district repeatedly violated the law by placing hasidic students with disabilities in private yeshiva schools at district expense.
State Tells Scandal-Ridden Haredi-Controlled School District To Stop Sending Kids To Yeshivas For Special Ed – Or Else
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
In a February 6 letter, New York State’s Department of Education’s the Assistant Commissioner James DeLorenzo reportedly stands by the state’s findings that the haredi-controled East Ramapo school district repeatedly violated the law by placing hasidic students with disabilities in private yeshiva schools at district expense. The state insists that East Ramapo take corrective action. East Ramapo refuses because it claims the state is misapplying the law and has threatened to sue the state if the district is forced to take its Jewish special education students out of yeshivas.
Since 2010, East Ramapo has been cited by the state three times. Eventually, the state withheld funding; it may soon withhold more.
DeLorenzo’s letter, first reported in The Journal News, is clear.
If East Ramapo does not comply with several requirements, including creating a plan to bring the disabled students who’ve been sent to private yeshiva schools for Yiddish education programs back into district schools, the state will take action against East Ramapo.
“A [public school] must conduct itself in compliance with the letter and purpose of the law. We find in these instances, that the district did not do so, and is now attempting to justify its actions under the law,” DeLorenzo wrote, adding that if East Ramapo doesn’t comply, it is subject to various potential enforcement actions by the Department of Education. Those possible enforcement actions reportedly include redirection of funds, withholding of funds and, most importantly, an order from the State Commissioner of Education to the East Ramapo school board and the district’s schools superintendent.
If such an order is issued and the East Ramapo school board willfully violates it, the commissioner has the legal right to remove school board members from office.
The state can also take over the school district, but it would need special legislation passed to approve it.
Elie Wizman, East Ramapo’s assistant superintendent for the Office of Special Student Services and Funded Programs, told the Journal News that East Ramapo plans to ask DeLorenzo for state guidance to improve the special education program, even though East Ramapo “always felt” the program was compliant.
“What we felt this letter was about was pretty much him saying, ‘Yes, you can do these things that you’ve been doing [sending hasidic children out of the district to hasidic schools for special education classes] but you need to do them procedurally better,’…The issue until now has been that because of religious and cultural convictions, the very large private school community has not felt comfortable [with in-district placements] and almost always went into litigation with us [to force us to send their kids to the yeshivas],” Wizman reportedly said.