Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, May 11, 2020
Contact: Press@yaffed.org

Leaked emails reveal backroom deal to go slow on Yeshiva investigations; Mayor and top aides should be held accountable for denying children a basic education

Yaffed Calls on City and State to Enforce Education Laws After Bombshell Report of Stonewalling by New York City

New York, NY – A shocking new report confirms how New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio abused his power by interfering with a Department of Education investigation into allegations that tens of thousands of New York City children were being denied a basic education in Yeshivas. According to the leaked emails contained in the article, Mayor de Blasio was himself involved in offers to Ultra-Orthodox leaders to delay any DOE report on the investigation’s findings and to go “gentle” with the final report, in exchange for the extension of mayoral control in 2017, which was being held hostage by State Senators taking directions from leaders of the Ultra-Orthodox community. The deal to delay the report was apparently made so that Senator Simcha Felder had time to ram through the “Felder Amendment,” which was an attempt to soften the legal requirement that these schools provide a “substantially equivalent” education and to derail the State Education Department’s ability to ensure the right of Yeshiva students to receive one.

As Naftuli Moster, executive director of Young Advocates for Fair Education (Yaffed ) said, “These internal emails confirm how Mayor de Blasio and his top officials abused their power by making a deal with Ultra-Orthodox leaders to interfere and delay the release of the findings of an investigation into the denial of the rights of tens of thousands of New York City children to receive a basic education. With these alarming facts now fully public, we are demanding immediate actions be taken to reverse the corrupt results of these unconscionable acts.

Today, we call on the City of New York and New York State to enforce the law without further delay, and for the Attorney General’s office to launch a probe into the corruption that these emails reveal.”

The organization Yaffed called for the following actions to occur:

  1. The Board of Regents should immediately approve the long-delayed “substantial equivalency” regulations, first proposed almost two years ago on July 3, 2019; otherwise, they will be further rewarding and abetting the stonewalling efforts by Ultra-Orthodox leaders and the city.

  2. The New York State Attorney General Letitia James should direct the Public Integrity Bureau of her office to launch an investigation into the actions of  the Mayor and his top aides, to determine whether the various favors made and promised to the Ultra-Orthodox leaders in return for renewing mayoral control were legal.

  3. The New York City Department of Education (DOE) should release publicly all their findings on the education provided by individual Yeshivas and together with the State, develop a plan to enforce “substantial equivalency” as soon as possible, so it can be quickly and efficiently implemented when schools are back in session.

  4. The DOE and SED should ensure that during the coronavirus crisis, all Yeshiva students are receiving adequate secular instruction via remote learning.

  5. Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark, who appears to have been responsible for orchestrating this deal to sacrifice the education of tens of thousands of Yeshiva students, should be asked to immediately resign.

  6. The leaders of the State Legislature, Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the respective Chairs of the Education Committees in the State Legislature, Assemblymember Michael Benedetto and Senator Shelley Mayer, should make it a priority to repeal the Felder Amendment, which was passed as a result of this disgraceful deal between the Mayor and Ultra-Orthodox leaders to delay the investigation into the Yeshivas.

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Yaffed Files Preliminary Injunction in Felder Amendment Suit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28th, 2018

Contact: Naftuli Moster, staff@yaffed.org

(New York, NY) – On Friday, August 24, YAFFED filed a motion in Brooklyn federal court seeking a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the Felder Amendment during the pendency of the lawsuit. The Amendment stands in the way of YAFFED’s mission and the ultimate goal of improving secular education in ultra-Orthodox Jewish non-public schools. The children of New York’s ultra-Orthodox community deserve enforcement of appropriate standards and not the watered down, ambiguous standard of the Felder Amendment, which effectively ratifies the existing conditions in these schools and allows the City to continue its lax enforcement of State Education Law.  We have asked the court to maintain the statutory status quo ante, which would require local districts and the State to enforce the pre-existing standards.

Yaffed Responds to NYC Chancellor Carranza’s Letter to NYSED Commissioner Elia, Calls for intensified, Speedier Investigation of Yeshivas Accused of Failing to Provide Adequate Secular Instruction to Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 20th, 2018

Contact: Naftuli Moster, staff@yaffed.org


(New York, NY) – Today, Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), a nonprofit committed to improving educational standards and curricula within ultra-Orthodox schools, held a press conference to discuss the letter from Chancellor Richard Carranza to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia regarding the status of his investigation of some NYC yeshivas.

YAFFED Executive Director Naftuli Moster said “We are pleased that Chancellor Richard Carranza kept his promise to be more transparent than his predecessor. We hope this letter ushers in a new era of transparency and accountability.”

YAFFED called on the Chancellor and the Department of Education to redouble their efforts to ensure that all yeshivas provide their students with an education that is at least “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools.

“The letter confirms YAFFED’s allegations that lack of secular studies is a serious problem for many children in ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic yeshivas. It is a validation of our concerns, even though the investigation was incomplete. Clear evidence that the educational programs are not equivalent was found, even though inspectors were denied entry by many of the yeshivas.”

“There’s only one reason a school would bar the city from entering: they are hiding something. They are hiding because the situation is so bad that even with advance notice, they could not get their act together enough to make a pretense of compliance with the law.”

David Bloomfield, Professor of Education Leadership, Law & Policy Brooklyn College and The CUNY Graduate Center, added:

“The Chancellor’s letter describes a delayed, superficial, and deferential process of mayoral malfeasance and educational malpractice that denies students their basic educational rights in violation of state law.”

Yaffed Files Preliminary Injunction in Felder Amendment Suit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28th, 2018

Contact: Naftuli Moster, staff@yaffed.org

(New York, NY) – On Friday, August 24, YAFFED filed a motion in Brooklyn federal court seeking a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the Felder Amendment during the pendency of the lawsuit. The Amendment stands in the way of YAFFED’s mission and the ultimate goal of improving secular education in ultra-Orthodox Jewish non-public schools. The children of New York’s ultra-Orthodox community deserve enforcement of appropriate standards and not the watered down, ambiguous standard of the Felder Amendment, which effectively ratifies the existing conditions in these schools and allows the City to continue its lax enforcement of State Education Law.  We have asked the court to maintain the statutory status quo ante, which would require local districts and the State to enforce the pre-existing standards.

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