Religious & Elite Private Schools Make Oral Arguments Against State Oversight

Brearley + Spence etc join Yeshivas and Catholic schools in resisting NYSED guidelines for non-public schools

ALBANY, NY (04/15/2019) (readMedia)-- On Monday, an Albany Supreme Court judge will hear oral arguments on three lawsuits -- one from the NYS Association of Independent Schools, the other two from Yeshivas and Catholic schools -- opposing the New York State Education Department guidelines for nonpublic schools.

Naftuli Moster, Executive Director of Yaffed, will be at the hearing and available for comment.

In early march, eleven elite private schools, including the prestigious Brearley and Spence Schools, filed a lawsuit as part of the New York State Association of Independent Schools to stop the state from enforcing its revised guidelines. These guidelines are designed to make sure that non-public schools are meeting the legal requirement to provide an education that's "substantially equivalent" to public schools. The guidelines do not differ significantly from previous versions, requiring the teaching of the basics, such as English, math, science, and social studies. A consortium of yeshivas and Catholic schools have also filed two similar lawsuits which claim religious freedom from oversight.


The NYSAIS lawsuit argues that the guidelines, which require an inspection within the next 2-3 years and then every 5 year subsequently, are an overreach of the state's power. If the private schools win their suit, they would, in turn, be helping yeshivas who refuse to meet the the state's guidelines as well. Catholic and elite private schools would easily pass any substantial equivalency test, but instead they've rallied to the defense of the ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas which make no secret of the fact that they haven't and won't provide their students with a full secular education.

The revised, minimal guidelines, established on November 20th, 2018 would require:

  • Nonpublic schools and religious schools to be inspected minimally: within the next 2-3 years and then every 5 year subsequently
  • Academically rigorous instruction in core subjects.
  • The local school board or the Chancellor to determine whether a substantially equivalent education is being provided in religious or nonpublic schools
  • The local district must work with the religious and nonpublic schools to review textbooks and ensure that each student is receiving a sound education while respecting the school's culture.

Yeshivas receive millions in state funding, but for years have eschewed the statutory requirement to provide a substantially equivalent education, leaving graduates woefully unprepared to succeed in secular society. Currently, students receive only 90 minutes of secular education in Hasidic boys' elementary schools, and none in high school.

YAFFED is an advocacy group committed to improving educational curricula within ultra-Orthodox schools. They fervently believe that every child is entitled to a fair and equitable education that is in compliance with the law. Their work involves raising awareness about the importance of general studies education, and encouraging elected officials, Department of Education officials and the leadership of the ultra-Orthodox world to act responsibly in preparing their youth for economic sufficiency and for broad access to the resources of the modern world.


Naftuli Moster, Executive Director of Yaffed


Oral arguments on the three lawsuits against the New York State Education Department guidelines for nonpublic schools.  

WHEN: Monday April 15, 2019 at 10:00AM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
WHERE: Albany County Supreme Court
Albany County Courthouse
16 Eagle Street, room TBD
Albany, New York