Posted to Lost Messiah on April 28, 2021
THE CITY Sues the Department of Education to Get Brooklyn Yeshiva Investigation Documents
THE CITY filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city Department of Education after the agency refused to provide documents related to its investigation of the content and quality of instruction at Jewish religious schools in Brooklyn.
The DOE launched its probe of the yeshivas in mid-2015 in response to complaints from former students and advocates connected to the group Yaffed, who alleged that little to no instruction in subjects such as English and math was being provided at roughly three dozen Orthodox schools.
In August 2018, after advocates accused the city and Mayor Bill de Blasio of slow-walking the probe, then-Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza wrote a letter to the state Education Department revealing that 15 of 28 yeshivas at the heart of the investigation had refused entry to DOE officials.
State guidelines requiring that education at private schools be “substantially equivalent” to instruction at public schools governed the inquiry, even as those standards have been shifting in recent years.
It wasn’t until December 2019 that Carranza confirmed officials had visited 28 yeshivas, which he identified in a follow-up letter to state education officials, and revealed summary findings without specifying the conditions uncovered at each school.
The investigation found that just two of the yeshivas visited by the DOE could prove they provided “substantially equivalent” instruction to their public school counterparts.
Five of the 28 schools were described as providing an “underdeveloped” level of learning, including some showing “no evidence that English is consistently used as a language of instruction,” according to the update provided to SED.The City
DOE Excuse Flunks ‘Smell Test’Carranza wrote that his agency was sending a letter to each of the 28 schools “communicating the information, observations, and findings specific to each school.” THE CITY requested copies of those letters under the state’s Freedom of Information Law on Jan. 2, 2020.
More than 10 months later, on Nov. 16, 2020, the DOE provided two of the 28 letters — regarding the schools where instruction was deemed substantially equivalent. Officials denied access to the remaining 26 on the basis that sharing them would “interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigations.”
A month later, THE CITY filed an administrative appeal with the DOE. City education officials denied the appeal on Dec. 28, 2020 — again arguing that the investigation was ongoing and that release of the letters would interfere with the probe.The City: To Continue reading click here.