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New York Judge Strikes Down Rule Over Private And Religious School Inspections

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A New York judge struck down a rule that allowed public inspection of private schools Wednesday.

Judge Christina Ryba ruled that the updated guidelines were not enacted in compliance with the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), The Associated Press reported Thursday.

The New York State Education Department introduced the set of guidelines in November 2018 to check if private schools were hosting “substantially equivalent” education programs to public schools. Private schools that were not deemed to give the “equivalent” education could lose state funding.

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SAPA requires proposed rules to be notified to the secretary of state. The public must also be given a chance to comment, the ruling document said.

The court “nullified” the guidelines because it found “the mandatory language dictating when the reviews will begin coupled with the language that insists ‘all’ schools will be visited as part of the process constitute clear rules and not merely ‘interpretive statements which in themselves have no legal effect but are merely explanatory.’”

The guidelines could have affected yeshivas, or Orthodox Jewish schools. Yeshivas have been criticized for not providing adequate instruction in subjects like math and English, according to The AP.

A pro-Yeshiva group and a group representing Catholic schools challenged the guidelines in lawsuits, The AP reported.

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The New York State Association for Independent Schools (NYSAIS), which represented 11 private schools in the state, also filed a lawsuit to prevent private schools from possibly compromising their independence, the New York Post reported in March.

Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS), one of the groups that filed a lawsuit, released a statement on Twitter Thursday celebrating the ruling.

“This stops in its tracks SED’s [State Education Department] effort to radically transform the relationship between the state and its private schools,” PEARLS said in the statement.

“We very much appreciate that the judge recognized the merits of our legal arguments and agreed NYSED must immediately suspend its ill-conceived regulations forcing local schools officials to review all nonpublic schools throughout the state of New York,” NYSAIS said, according to a press statement given to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

A group that wants to reform yeshivas was not pleased with the decision, however.

“Removing the revised oversight signals to ultra-Orthodox yeshivas that they can continue business as usual and fail to provide basic instruction in math, English, science, history, civics and other subjects that are keys to a sound basic education,” Young Advocates For A Fair Education executive director Naftuli Moster said, the Gothamist reported.

“We are reviewing the court’s decision and will determine the appropriate next steps,” NYSED spokesperson Emily DeSantis said to The Daily Caller News Foundation over email Thursday.

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