Monsey, NY – After yet another tense standoff between yeshiva administrators and Rockland County officials this morning, an agreement has been reached for inspections to be made by certified inspectors at a group of approximately one dozen local yeshivos.
As previously reported on VIN News(http://goo.gl/W8W5M80), Dennis Lynch, the lawyer for the newly formed School Religious Freedom Coalitions whose members represent an unknown number of local private schools, filed a complaint with State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia accusing County Executive Ed Day of ulterior motives and of using the fire safety issue for political gain.
Day roundly denied those charges, insisting that, as always, he is merely looking to enforce the law across the board.
County inspectors were turned away at all sixteen schools scheduled to be visited today, prompting local officials to threaten court action against the schools. Day said that Lynch agreed this afternoon to the inspections as long as they are pushed off until Wednesday morning.
Day said that he was pleased with the latest developments which accomplish a two-fold purpose.
“One is that where we are now we can provide some comfort to kids to be in a safe environment,” Day told VIN News. “The other is that we are providing a belief in a system of government where rules apply equally to all.”
Lynch was not immediately available for comment on today’s developments.
Tempers had escalated over the last few days, with Lynch charging that Day tipped off television crews to a scheduled inspection at one unnamed yeshiva last week, as reported by The Journal News. 11 out of 15 schools refused to allow inspectors into their schools on Thursday.
Rockland County attorney Thomas Humbach sent a list of schools to be inspected today to Lynch in order to give the schools advance notice of the upcoming inspections. But Lynch charged that the timing of the letter, sent late Friday afternoon when all of the schools had already shut down for the weekend, rendered it ineffectual.
“Sending a letter near the close of business on Friday for inspections on a Monday is unreasonable,” said Lynch “When I have to learn from The Journal News what the county executive is doing to religious organizations, it’s a sad day for civil rights.”
The sixteen schools to be inspected today were listed as Bais Yehuda, Central UTA of Monsey, Congregation Birchos Yosef, Yeshiva Beth Mikroh, Bais Yaakov High School of Spring Valley, Congregation Khal Yereim/Yeshiva Bais Hillel, Mesivta of Yeshiva D’Monsey, Yeshiva High School, Imrei Shufer and Bais Yaakov Chofetz Chaim.
Several of the schools appeared multiple times on the list for unknown reasons. Humbach’s letter also warned that the county would seek warrants to gain access to any schools that refused to allow entry to inspectors.
A letter sent by Lynch to the county on Sunday expressed a willingness to cooperate with inspectors on Wednesday morning and reiterated his clients’ commitment to school safety for all children.
“Our goal from the beginning has been to allow all such lawful inspections,” wrote Lynch. “The process as set forth in this letter accomplishes that goal for all good people involved.”