Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Iyar 5766 - May 10, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Education Ministry Requires Institutions Submit Engineering Declaration with Licensing Requests

By Betzalel Kahn

The Education Ministry recently sent letters to recognized, unofficial educational institutions saying that license and license renewal requests for the educational institutions should include a declaration by an engineer or architect that the structure meets all planning and construction laws, including any relevant permit or easement.

The Forum of Educational Organizations and Institutions commissioned Atty. David Glass to file a claim that the demand is unreasonable and has no precedent in the annals of the School Inspection Law. Atty. Glass claims that according to Paragraph 5 of the law the Education Ministry routinely sends a copy of the licensing request to several entities for recommendations, including the local planning and construction committee, and if they do not object the Education Ministry has no apparent reason to demand a further declaration by an engineer or architect.

Furthermore the School Inspection Law states that even if the local planning and construction committee objects to granting the license, the Education Ministry is authorized to override the objection (which is not the case if the Health Ministry raises objections). In the absence of objections, argues Atty. Glass, the demand for a declaration makes no sense.

In a letter to the Education Ministry he notes that in recent years the Ministry has compelled recognized, unofficial institutions to meet stiffer licensing requirements that add numerous expenses to their budgets. Glass says this policy constitutes blatant discrimination since official institutions are not required to obtain licenses altogether.

"In light of the fact that health and safety defects which pose a hazard to students' well-being are present at a significant number of official schools," writes Atty. Glass, "the new requirement just for recognized, unofficial institutions seeking license renewals — after operating for decades and regularly submitting all of the required certificates — to provide a declaration is unreasonable, to say the least."

After citing a series of examples of difficulties the declaration creates, Atty. Glass writes that the new demand is the outcome of an illegitimate policy designed to further encumber recognized, unofficial institutions with restrictions. The Forum is demanding that the requirement be rescinded and in any case that license renewal requests be accepted even without the declaration since the requests have already been submitted.

Principals insist the requirement is untenable, saying, "What engineer or architecture would agree to sign for a decades- old building without examining all of the documents on it in the building file at the local authority and then re- assessing the structure to determine it fully conforms to the planning and construction regulations? This is obviously an expensive requirement."

If the new requirement is not rescinded, half of the educational institutions in Bnei Brak and one-third of those in Jerusalem could remain without facilities for the coming school year since a substantial number of the educational institutions in the city are housed in temporary, prefab structures or converted residential buildings.

The Bnei Brak municipality says that on one hand the State does not provide suitable schools for chareidi education, yet when private bodies and associations raise money to locate buildings the State heaps on obstacles and seeks ways to disallow the use of the improvised facilities.


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