For Immediate Release: July 14, 2023
Jewish parents & schools head to court to protect children with disabilities
Federal court to decide if California can deny special education funding to Jewish families & schools
WASHINGTON – A group of Jewish parents, children, and schools are headed to federal court next week to fight a California law that excludes religious schools from obtaining special education funding to serve children with disabilities. In Loffman v. California Department of Education a group of Orthodox Jewish parents want to send their children to Orthodox Jewish schools, and two Orthodox Jewish schools want to serve children with disabilities. However, they are unable to do so because politicians in California exclude all “sectarian” schools from participating in the State’s funding program. Becket, with the support of the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, is helping these parents and schools fight to stop California from denying crucial benefits to Jewish children with disabilities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law ensuring all children with disabilities can receive an education that meets their unique needs. This funding helps pay for the cost of staff training, special education programs, assistive technology, and other services. IDEA is designed to ensure all children can receive free and appropriate education, including at private schools when public schools cannot meet their needs. However, in California, politicians have categorically excluded religious schools from participating.
Chaya and Yoni Loffman, Fedora Nick and Morris Taxon, and Sarah and Ariel Perets are Orthodox Jewish parents whose religious beliefs require them to send their children with disabilities to schools that will both equip them with an education that allows them to reach their full potential and one centered around the Jewish tradition. Shalhevet High School and Yaveh Hebrew Academy are Jewish schools that offer an excellent education and wish to serve children with disabilities. Becket and Teach California, an initiative of the Orthodox Union that advocates for equal funding in nonpublic schools, are working together to ensure that these religious parents, their children with disabilities, and these religious schools are given equal access to special education funding—a result that most Californians would approve of according to a recent poll.
Oral Argument in Loffman v. California Department of Education
Arguing before the court:
Laura Slavis, counsel at Becket
Nick Reaves, counsel at Becket
Friday, July 21, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. PT
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
350 W 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Before oral argument, Becket and the Teach California will be hosting a rally beginning at 8:30 am PT outside the courthouse. Speakers will include supporters, parents and representatives from Teach California.
Becket attorneys and Teach California representatives will be available for comment immediately following the hearing.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Mandarin, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 25 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more here).