Education Ministry rejects deal on Petah Tikva Ethiopian pupils
JPost.com Staff • THE JERUSALEM POST
The Education Ministry on Sunday evening announced that it rejects the agreement that Petah Tikva mayor Itzik Ohayoun and the principals of the city's schools reached "behind its back." Furthermore, the state will cease its funding of the three private schools, the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier on Sunday, the crises over three religious private Petah Tikva schools' refusal to accept children of Ethiopian origin seemed to have come to an end, as the mayor and principles announced that they reached a compromise, according to which all 109 Ethiopian pupils will be in the city's schools.
However, the city's parent council rejected the deal shortly afterwards, saying that the division of students among the schools was not egalitarian.
Now, Ynet's reports:
Funding of Petah Tikva schools refusing Ethiopian students cut
Education Ministry suspends funding of three of city's private religious schools following continuous refusal to accept Ethiopian pupils. Headmasters rebuff criticism, regrets 'use of personal agenda to drag school system into chaos'
Yaheli Moran Zelikovich • Ynet
Petah Tikva private religious schools which refused to enroll Ethiopian students.
The government funds between 55% and 70% of the schools' budgets. The unusual decision was made after a ministry hearing held for the three headmasters, but the Education Ministry is still looking into the legal aspects of its ruling, ahead of a possible High Court appeal by the schools.
An official ministry statement said that, "The Education Ministry insists all three schools accept the students according to their original placement, as ordered by the City
"The Ministry has informed the school that it will be willing to significantly aid in their integration. In any case, the ministry will continue to meet the Ethiopian students' needs and integrate them in the school system."
The statement also said that the ministry found it "unacceptable" that Ethiopian pupils had to undergo an interview process prior to enrolment.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar spoke of the schools' refusal last week, saying his ministry "will not accept any excuses made to justify what appears to be racism… These schools are obligated to enroll Ethiopian students."
Sunday saw Sa'ar ask Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar to oversee a special program allowing rabbinical supervision of the curriculum, aimed at integrating Ethiopian students in the city's state schools.
Only five state-religious schools out of Petah Tikva's 20 religious schools have agreed to enroll Ethiopian students. The others – some [hared-]religious-Zionism schools, some [haredi] Orthodox schools and all private institutions – have done their best to avoid it, despite their government funding.
The schools' headmasters issued a joint statement: "The City is responsible for the placement of students in elementary schools and we accepted it. Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon was able to broker a solution which included the majority of educational disciplines in the city and we abide by that solution.
"We regret that some would use their personal agenda to drag the Petah Tikva school system into chaos."
The schools added that they will seek legal action meant to overturn the decision. "We will exhaust every legal option in the matter. We are positive we are right," said the statement, adding that the decision not to enroll the students was pedagogical and does not warrant the revoking of government funding.
In a news brief, Ynet notes the haredi schools will appeal the funding cut off to Israel's High Court:
Ethiopian students' crisis: Petah Tikva schools to appeal budget cuts
Yaheli Moran Zelikovich • Ynet
The thee Petah Tikva schools refusing to accept Ethiopian students said Sunday that they will seek legal action meant to overturn the Education Ministry's decision to cut their funding.
"We will exhaust every legal option in the matter. We are positive we are right," said the statement, adding that the decision not to enroll the students was pedagogical and does not warrant the revoking of government funding.