UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The state Department of Education wants to revise rules to boost oversight of private and religious schools.

The scrutiny comes amid complaints that some yeshivas are skipping secular instruction. As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, all independent schools statewide would be affected.

Wednesday was orientation day at Kellenberg High School in Uniondale, one of hundreds of private schools in the state.

“This is my third child that’s coming through the school. We just love it here. It’s a family atmosphere,” parent Sue Mathison said.

“I think this curriculum far surpasses in many ways what’s being offered in the public schools,” teacher Penny Riiska added.

(Photo: CBS2)

Some parents and teachers are opposed to a state proposal that could have major implications for all independent schools.

“For 100 years we’ve always had the status of substantial equivalency,” Kellenberg Principal Brother Kenneth Hoagland said.

Hoagland called the state’s proposal of oversight of private schools by local public districts unacceptable and a conflict of interest.

“We certainly are obligated to give an equivalent education to the students that come to us and we have succeeded in that,” Hoagland said. “There are many other ways of evaluating.”

The New York State Association of Independent Schools says fewer than 2% of all non-public schools statewide are under-performing.

Some advocates say the state should step in and require drastic changes in those situations but there’s no need to monitor all high-achieving private schools.

“I just don’t think it’s warranted that the public schools come in and decide what our curriculum should be here,” parent Joseph Canny said.

“That’s why we chose this school and we don’t believe any additional agency should have the weigh-in on the decision making,” parent Robert York added.

Experts say all students deserve the protections.

“New York state is not opposed to private and religious education. It’s really a minimal proposal that says state monitors should be able to go into schools to make sure they are
living up to the responsibility that they claim they are meeting,” Hofstra University education professor Alan Singer said. “This is not oppressive. This is not anti-religious.”

The state Board of Regents is taking public comments until Sept. 2.

No matter which side you take, parents are urged to share their views with emails to the Board of Regents in Albany.

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