Secular L.I. Parents Sue Orthodox-Run School Board
Five Towns feud!
Hey, poli-sci majors. Discuss: should public services—let’s say schools—be governed by the people who pay for them, or by the people who use them? That’s the question raised by a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by a group of parents in Lawrence, N.Y., one of Long Island’s famous Five Towns, where the school board is dominated by Orthodox Jews whose children don’t use public schools at all—they go to yeshivas—but who are nonetheless obligated to pay high property taxes to support the district.
The suit claims that the board’s recent decision to shut down the district’s newest elementary school in the face of falling enrollment—allegedly with the ulterior motive of cherry-picking the best facility to sell or lease to a yeshiva—amounts to the backdoor establishment of religion, in violation of the First Amendment. It’s the latest flare-up in long-running tensions between Orthodox residents, on one hand, and secular Jews and non-Jewish residents, on the other, who are steadily being crowded out of the community. (Previous iterations have included vicious budget fights and contract disputes.) Lawyers for the school board dismiss the accusations and insist the public will “not only be aware, but they will participate in the process.” Which, of course, means the entire public, not just those who use the public schools.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.