The state of New York wants to require private schools to mirror public school education and now a predictable legal clash is under way over that demand.
California-based Pacific Justice Institute is representing ultra-Orthodox Jewish parents and rabbis in The Empire State over the Dept. of Education pushing to make private schools “substantiallly equivalent” to a public-school education.
PJI is representing PURITE, or Parents Union for Religious Integrity of Torah Education, which has already sued over the education rules.
PURITE is concerned the proposed regulations would punish Hasidic Jews, a tight-knight community of Jews known for wearing traditional clothing, and for close study of the Torah and Talmud in the classroom.
PJI attorney Kevin Snider sent a letter defending PURITE to the New York Dept. of Education, which was accepting public comments about its proposed rule.
"This is very important from both a parental rights perspective over the education of children as well as from a religious freedom perspective from overt government persecution,” says PJI president Brad Dacus.
Dacus says the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled in a similar case, when a 1972 ruling overturned the fines imposed on Amish and Mennonite parents in a Wisconsin case.
An in-depth story about New York state's education dispute, published at website Education Next, reports the conflict dates back years even though Jewish schools outperform public schools in the state.
The Hasidic schools are under more scrutiny due to the intense focus on Jewish scripture, leaving them open to accusations that math and English are not a priority, the story reported.
A lawsuit filed earlier this year by PURITE ended in defeat for New York's education officials who vowed to push forward over determining what "substantially equivalent" means in state law according to the story.
If the Hasidic education is not protected, Dacus warns, then Christian schools and other faith-based institutions could find themselves failing to comply with future mandates from New York education officials.
PJI welcomes other private schools in New York to contact the law firm over the proposed rules.