The New York State Education Department (NYSED) proposed new draft regulations for multiple pathways for nonpublic schools to demonstrate substantial equivalency of education to ensure that nonpublic school students receive the education they are entitled to receive by federal law.
The March 10 recommendations, presented by Commissioner Betty A. Rosa, will incorporate key elements into new proposed regulations that ensure students receive substantial equivalency of instruction.
The key elements include respect for different instructional models; offering multiple pathways to demonstrate substantial equivalence of instruction; focusing on core instruction in math, science, English language arts, and social studies, and other statutorily required instruction in all schools such as certain civics, health, and physical education requirements; providing specific expectations for local school authorities and non-public schools during review processes; and creating a review and complaint process.
“We have an obligation under the law to ensure all students receive an education that enables them to fulfill their potential and teaches them the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to society and participate in civic life,” Commissioner Rosa said. “Through our robust stakeholder engagement over the past two years, we listened to all parties, and their feedback is reflected in our new proposed regulations.”
In May 2021, the NYSED released a report with a summary of the feedback at the stakeholder meetings. From Fall 2020 to the present, NYSED staff held over 20 meetings both virtually and in person with stakeholder groups representing tens of thousands of students to gather input and feedback into developing new draft regulations.
These groups included the Commissioner’s Advisory Council for Religious and Independent Schools, Amish school leaders, local Orthodox Jewish groups, public school leaders, Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS) and other groups.
YAFFED held a virtual press conference on March 14 following their statement issued March 10 in which the organization commended the new draft regulations, saying “these new proposed regulations constitute a positive step in the direction of ensuring that students in nonpublic schools receive the education to which they are entitled under the law”.
The virtual press conference focused on the educational deficit experienced in many Hasidic and Haredi schools statewide.
“In 2015 YAFFED filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Education and they announced an investigation. Yet here we are nearly seven years later and they have yet to remedy the problem in the dozens of Yeshivas we’ve identified in which they themselves [were] found to be noncompliant” said YAFFED founder and executive director Naftuli Moster during the press conference Monday. “Most Hasidic boys schools offer only 90 minutes of secular education a day in elementary and middle school and no secular education at all in high school. The consequences are dire both for the community and for society at large. In a nutshell, these new regulations consist of three parts; the subject requirements, enforcement mechanisms and transparency and accountability methods. These novel elements provide some reason for hope.”