Last year, This American Life aired an episode all about how a group of ultra-orthodox Jews took over a public school district in East Ramapo, New York.
The gist of the story was that the Orthodox Jews were upset about having to pay property taxes that went to the public schools since their children didn’t even attend them. They launched a successful campaign to become the majority seat-holders on the school board in order to revise future budgets… and what transpired after that was just ridiculous.
The New York State Education Department wasn’t able to obtain control over the district. However, last week, they announced the appointment of “three experts to study the district’s operations and offer recommendations to the school board and the Board of Regents.”
“This is less of a powerful position for the team, but in the circumstances where we don’t have collaboration with the district, there will be action taken,” [state education commissioner, MaryEllen] Elia said.
The commissioner has the power, for instance, to remove members of the school board and, where a district is found to be violating state regulations, to order it to come into compliance.
In a district where students are struggling to meet any sort of academic standards, and where resources to succeed continue getting cut, this will hopefully give the state some opportunity to help students who have nowhere else to turn.
(via Religion Clause. Portions of this article were published earlier)