In Violation of Israeli Law, Council's Lengthy Acceptance Process Bars Siblings From Starting School

Five siblings, aged 10 to 17, prevented from attending Hevel-Modi'in Regional Council school.

Five students have been barred from starting the school year, in violation of Israel’s compulsory education law. The students, siblings between 10 and 17 years old, have been unable to attend school in the Hevel-Modi’in Regional Council because authorities would not recognize their family’s rental contract as proof of residency.

The rental contract is for an apartment in Bareket, a town within the council’s borders. But Hevel-Modi’in demanded that the family members also register their address with the Interior Ministry. This contravenes a memorandum issued by the Education Ministry’s director general, which states that either a rental contract or an identification card with an updated address is sufficient to establish residency within a local authority’s jurisdiction.

The family members could not meet both requirements, because Hevel-Modi’in’s admissions committee, which screens potential residents of the council, had not admitted them. As a result, they were barred from changing their permanent address with the Interior Ministry.

Since Haaretz first reported on the story, Hevel-Modi'in has changed its position, allowing the five children to enroll in a local school. But one month into the academic year, they have yet to begin studying.

The children’s mother said that she and her husband had “no idea” the council had an admissions committee when they rented their apartment, and that it had since withheld their acceptance without explanation.

"Even after we provided them with approval letters from rabbis and a character reference, which we were required to present to be let in, we were still not accepted," she said.

“We requested an explanation, but have not yet received one, and they refuse to issue us a written document. Why should our children pay the price? Children should study, and even one of my kids with special needs is still at home because the council refuses to provide her with transportation.”

On Friday, the head of the Hevel-Modi’in education department said the children were registered and the issue would be resolved by Sunday.

The council said in a statement that according to the director general’s memo, residents are granted educational services from the authority in which they are registered, but since the family members are listed as living in Elad, they must change their address to enroll in a school in Hevel’Modi’in.

The council’s statement also suggested that it was simply applying the Interior Ministry’s policy.

“The Interior Ministry’s demand to receive approval of their [the family’s] admission into the town has nothing to do with the council, and we are convinced that the ministry is acting lawfully. It should also be noted that we only received the rental contract recently, not upon submission of the initial request for registration,” it said.

“The registration process and removal of the children from another authority is very important. We hope that the address registration process, which was explained in detail to the father of the family, will be concluded, and we will then be happy to attend to the children."

Amiram Ma’atuf, the head of the Bareket Council, refused to provide details on why the admissions committee decided against accepting the family, citing the confidentiality of the information. He said the committee would be happy to encourage the council to enroll the children in school, but emphasized that he is not responsible for that.