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Yeshivas Escape State Review After Judge’s Ruling

Yeshiva supporters are cheering a decision issued by an Albany judge on Wednesday, which rolls back the controversial new guidelines regulating private school education that state education authorities laid out late last year.

The decision, written by State Supreme Court Judge Christina Ryba, comes in a lawsuit brought by the pro-yeshiva advocacy group PEARLS, among others, against the leadership of the New York State Education Department. In her decision, the judge ruled that in issuing the new guidelines, which would have allowed the state to review the curricula of every Hasidic yeshiva to determine whether they meet state standards, the state should have followed a different bureaucratic process than the one it did follow.

State authorities argued that the new guidelines were an “interpretive statement,” not a “rule,” a legal distinction that has implications for the process by which the guidelines should have been issued. If the new guidelines constitute a rule, the state should have followed a certain bureaucratic procedure it did not follow.

“The Court finds that the new guidelines are ‘rules’… and are hereby nullified,” Ryba wrote.

In a statement, New York State Education Department spokesperson Emily DeSantis said that the department was “reviewing the court’s decision and will determine the appropriate next steps.”

PEARLS attorney Avi Schick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Yeshiva advocates are already cheering the decision. Simcha Eichenstein, a New York State Assemblymember representing a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, tweeted that the ruling was “a victory for all non-public school students.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis

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