Committee votes down resolution to enforce standards at private schools

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Rockland lawmakers narrowly voted down Tuesday a resolution that would have pushed for a mechanism to enforce state educational standards at private schools.

Legislators held a multi services committee meeting to discuss the resolution, which addresses concerns within the community that some Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish schools are not teaching substantially equivalent lessons compared to public schools. The concern is focused on yeshivas mainly in the East Ramapo Central School District area.

There is an existing state law that mandates private schools adhere to state educational standards. The failed resolution would have urged state leaders to pass bills in both the Assembly and the Senate to create a mechanism to allow the state to enforce educational standards at non-public schools.

Some within the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish community are concerned that state oversight could lead to government intrusion on religious freedom and forced assimilation.

"This is not to infringe on anybody's religious right, because again we do have private schools here such as Green Meadow Rockland Country School," says Legislator Laurie Santulli, who sponsored the bill. "The same idea is to see that they are receiving a rigorous education. Religion is not a factor in this."

The committee needed at least four votes in favor of the resolution for it to advance to the full legislature. Despite calls for the committee to push the resolution through, it failed by one vote.

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