The Albany Supreme Court just issued its decision in the closely-watched challenge to the regulations recently enacted by the State Education Department. The opinion by Justice Christine Ryba held that the part of the New Regulations that penalizes parents and yeshivas if a school is determined not to be substantially equivalent was improper, noting that “the Compulsory Education Law does not authorize or contemplate the imposition of penalties or other consequences upon a nonpublic school that has been found to not provide substantially equivalent education.” The Court found that this aspect of the New Regulations is “inconsistent with the legislative goal of the Compulsory Education Law and exceeds the rule making authority conferred upon respondents.”
Justice Ryba therefore struck down the provisions of the New Regulations that provided that if a nonpublic school receives an unfavorable final determination on substantial equivalency “the nonpublic school shall no longer be deemed a school which provides compulsory education fulfilling the requirement of the Compulsory Education Law.”
The Court noted that “most importantly, there is nothing in the Compulsory Education Law that limits a child to procuring a substantially equivalent education through merely one source of instruction provided at a single location So long as the child receives a substantially equivalent education through some source or combination of sources, the Legislative purpose of compulsory education is satisfied” and that a parent can satisfy the compulsory education requirement “such as by providing supplemental home instruction in compliance with the home schooling regulations.”
The decision rejected the SAPA claims advanced by the Petitioners, and held that it is premature to rule on the constitutional claims, which can be brought after a local school district completes a substantial equivalency review.
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