Long Island, NY - Yeshiva Parent Sues State For Tighter School Safety Regs Invoking Kletzky Tragedy
Long Island, NY - A Long Island student and her father have filed a lawsuit against the New York State Assembly, charging that exempting non-public schools from the same child protection laws that are mandatory in New York’s public schools is a violation of those students’ constitutional rights.
The lawsuit, Levi versus New York State, was filed on January 18th in Manhattan federal court and names the State Assembly, Speaker Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos, Jeffrey D. Klein and the State of New York as defendants. Both Skelos and Klein are presidents pro tempore of the New York State Senate as well as senate conference leaders of their respective parties.
The student, who is legally considered a minor, attends a Nassau County yeshiva.
“No one was attacked or assaulted here,” Elliot Pasik, attorney for the plaintiff and president and founder of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, told VIN News. “This lawsuit has nothing to do with curriculums. It is limited to child safety and health laws and about making our religious schools safer for our children.”
As described in the thirty page complaint, by not subjecting religious schools to the same child safety and health regulations as public schools, the plaintiff’s constitutional rights under both the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clause have been violated, forcing her to receive her education in a potentially hazardous environment in order to be able to attend a school that allows her to freely practice her religion.
The complaint suggests that in the wake of the Leiby Kletzky murder, much attention has been focused on improving child safety legislation, particularly in non-public schools. Some of the legislation being suggested in the lawsuit, which is already mandatory in public schools, includes requiring schools to educate students in abduction prevention, to fingerprint and run criminal background checks of all employees and to report any and all child abuse that takes place in an educational setting.
Pasik, himself the parent of non-public school children, expressed optimism that safer schools for nearly half million New York State children who attend non-public schools, will soon become a reality.
“We hope there are mature, sober voices, among our state officials, who can closely examine this situation,” said Pasik. “Firm, decisive action is needed. 400,000 nonpublic school children deserve the best legal protection our state can give them.”
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