An expose in the New York Post revealed leaked emails in which the de Blasio administration promised to stall release of an investigation of substandard Yeshivas in exchange for Orthodox Jewish support of mayoral control of the New York City public schools in the state legislature. The substandard Yeshivas allegedly don’t teach English, science, or other secular subjects. The city was supposed to conduct an investigation but withheld the results until the legislature renewed mayoral control. YAFFED is an organization created by graduates of Yeshivas who believe they were cheated of a secular education.

Naftuli Moster Executive Director

Monday, May 11, 2020

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.