City investigation into if yeshivas are breaking the law stalls

The city has blown its deadline for completing a politically explosive investigation into whether yeshivas are breaking the law by cutting out secular studies in favor of religious instruction. And NY1 Education Report Lindsey Christ reports, the city still cannot say when it will be finished.

It's been two years since the de Blasio administration said it was investigating religious schools serving tens of thousands of ultra-orthodox Jewish children.

The probe began after activist Naftuli Moster filed a complaint alleging that his yeshiva education left him wholly uneducated and unequipped to make a living.

"Boys ages 13 and up receive no secular education at all. So they attend yeshiva for as many as 14 hours a day, from 6:30 AM to 8:30 PM often, and they get zero secular studies," said Moster of Young Advocates for a Fair Education. "No English, no math, forget about science or social studies, which they don't even get in elementary school."

State law requires private schools to provide an education substantially equal to a public education, but the city and state have long taken a hands-off approach toward the yeshivas, despite providing them tens of millions of dollars in aid.

15 months ago, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told the City Council that it could expect a report on the investigation in a month.

But it still hasn't been issued, and she would not answer Moster's questions Friday about when it might be completed:

Moster: You've been informed about this more than two years ago, you said you were investigating. Last year, you said you were going to produce a report, and it has yet to come out.

Fariña: OK.

Moster: I think it's important to get a response. I think it's been long enough.

Fariña: The response is: No comment.

Moster: It's been way too long and it's not fair for tens of thousands of Hasidic children.

Fariña: This is a very complicated problem.

Moster: It's not complicated. You've solved so many other problems during this time. It's not fair for these tens of thousands of Hasidic children.

Official: Thank you for the comment. Let's move on.

On August 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio largely sidestepped a similar question. "We have a legal requirement to make sure that the proper education happens in every kind of school, so we are perusing that vigorously, I assure you," he said.

The ultra-orthodox community is close to de Blasio. The administration has been accused of waiting until after the mayoral election to act. Officials denied that, and earlier this summer, promised an interim report by Sept. 22.

But Friday, an education department spokeswoman said she could no longer provide a date for its release.

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