Deadline extended for first step in private school enforcement measures

NYSED did not say whether this delay would affect further efforts to determine whether the schools are meeting state standards

Yeshiva in Kiryas Joel. Credit: Mo Gelber/Shtetl

Aug 31, 2023 1:15 PM


Aug 31, 2023 3:15 PM

The New York State Education Department extended a deadline related to enforcing secular education standards in private schools, according to an email to Shtetl on Thursday. The deadline relates to new guidelines released by NYSED in July. It requires local school authorities to submit comprehensive lists of non-public schools in their geographical boundaries, and was moved from Sep. 1 to Oct. 9.

The deadline represents the first step local school authorities have to take to bring their enforcement of education policies up to state standards, particularly as they relate to Haredi schools, after a complaint about 39 Haredi schools in 2015 set off a series of government actions. After submitting those lists, further deadlines require the local school authorities to determine whether the private schools in their areas are providing education that they consider “substantially equivalent” to what public schools provide.

JP O’Hare, a spokesperson for NYSED, said the purpose of the extension is “to provide districts and non-public schools time to ensure the process is carried out with fidelity.”

O’Hare said that none of New York City, Kiryas Joel, and East Ramapo – all districts with many Haredi schools – has finalized its list.

“While the New York City DOE has not completed their submission, NYSED has been in contact with them and continues to provide technical assistance and support. East Ramapo and Kiryas Joel have yet to finalize their submission either,” O’Hare wrote.

NYSED did not immediately respond to questions about what kind of support the DOE needed, whether the other districts also asked for assistance, and what this deadline extension means for the other deadlines listed in the guidelines. According to the July guidelines, the next deadline is Dec. 1. By then, local school authorities must inform the state of “the pathway each nonpublic school in its boundaries has selected to use to demonstrate the substantial equivalence of its instruction.”

"We are dismayed that this first, simplest, deadline in implementing substantial equivalency for yeshivas has been delayed by NYSED," said Beatrice Weber, the executive director of YAFFED, an organization that advocates for secular education in yeshivas, in a statement to Shtetl. "If school districts are unable to produce a list of the nonpublic schools in their district what does that say about their capacity to effectively evaluate these schools next year and take their responsibility to all students seriously?"

This story was updated to include a statement from YAFFED.

Lauren Hakimi is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, New York Jewish Week, WNYC/Gothamist and more. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with degrees in history and English literature. Hailing from an Iranian Jewish community on Long Island, she looks forward to shining a light on stories that matter to the Jewish community. Follow her on Twitter @lauren_hakimi.