Petah Tikva's Haredi parents take their beef to Yishai
Parents of children in Shas' Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani educational system in Petah Tikva will demonstrate this morning in Jerusalem outside the Interior Ministry office of party chairman Eli Yishai - the first open sign of a break between the grassroots of the movement and the Shas leadership.
The Petah Tikva schools of Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani have always been considered the jewels in the crown of the Shas system with 3,500 students in day care, nursery schools and elementary and high schools.
There are 500 employees in the system, and it is a serious competitor to both private and public schools in Petah Tikva. Now the system is in serious financial trouble because of a new law that was supposed to benefit it.
The problems started with the passage of two laws called "Nahari law 1" and "Nahari law 2," named after MK Meshulam Nahari (Shas), a minister without portfolio. The laws were intended to regularize the transfer of funds from local authorities to ultra-Orthodox schools.
But the way the deputy attorney general has interpreted the laws, says Shas, has had the opposite effect. The legal opinion forced the Haredi schools to accept the Education Ministry's unified criteria to receive funds and has lead to a large drop in the money transfered to ultra-Orthodox school systems.
"The laws have allowed whoever wants to harm us to use the law to bring us down," said Yossi Bosso, the head of the Shas system in Petah Tikva.
Municipalities have used the laws to justify cuts in funding and services for Haredi schools and required them to provide various services themselves - or pay for them.
For example, in Petah Tikva, the city stopped paying the electric and water bills for the schools and has stopped arranging transportation for students. This caused Maayan Hahinuch to rack up NIS 4 million in debts. Bosso said that if things are not worked out by January 1, the schools will be in real danger of closing.
Interior Minister Yishai said the parents would not be demonstrating but would be meeting with him and the relevant professional staff.
"The minister will continue to assist the parents as needed," said his office.
Petah Tikva city hall said: "The educational system is asking for funds that do not accord with the figures we have and contradict the Education Ministry's instructions."