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London Hasidic School Denied Funding After Mothers Driving Flap

A request for state aid from a Belz Hasidic school in London was rejected weeks after the school’s threat to ban students whose mothers drive stirred controversy.

The Hackney Council said it decided not to grant the Beis Malka School Voluntary Aided status due to the amount of money the school requires for new building construction, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

The council said it also rejected the request due to the school’s inadequate teaching of the national curriculum, its inadequate provisions for special educational needs, and “serious concerns about health and safety.” The school’s “compliance with the Equality Act 2010” also was a factor, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

In May, Belz rabbis in London issued a letter saying that female drivers violate “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and that children would be expelled from Belz schools if their mothers dropped them off by car beginning in August with the new school year. Many Hasidic groups in the United States also frown upon women driving.

In response to the letter, the Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to the schools to say that it would be against the law to deny children entry on such grounds, according to the Chronicle.

The commission later said that it has received a “satisfactory response” from the leaders of the Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass boys school and the Beis Malka girls school over the threat after the schools had offered assurances that “they will not exclude or refuse admission to any child or apply any other sanction on the basis of their mother driving.”

Both schools have been rated “good” by Ofsted, Britain’s Office for Standards in Education.

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