Zebrowski Unveils Proposal to Enforce Educational Standards in Private Schools

Legislation would provide parents with streamlined process to report inadequate instruction

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announced plans to strengthen enforcement of laws requiring a “substantially equivalent” secular education in non-public schools. The recent lawsuit filed by current and former students alleging inadequate education in certain private schools highlighted the ineffectiveness of state laws in ensuring appropriate instruction in all educational settings. Assemblyman Zebrowski’s proposal lays out a process for current or former parents, students, educators or residents to file a formal complaint with the State Education Department and provides for several remedies which do not currently exist.

“Students and parents should not have to resort to a lawsuit in order to receive a quality education in New York. All schools, regardless of whether they are public or private, must uphold our State’s strong tradition of providing a quality education that includes courses in math, science, English, history and civics. This legislation will provide parents and students a method for their concerns to be heard, a process to determine whether the complaint is substantiated and a host of remedies to ensure educational standards are being met in the classroom,” said Zebrowski

The proposal would allow grieved parties to submit a complaint to the Commissioner of Education. Once the complaint is substantiated, the commissioner shall investigate the claim that a non-public school is not providing an adequate education. The investigation will include a review of curriculum, classroom material, and class offerings, and the commissioner may conduct unannounced school visits to observe instruction.

“Current law provides a mandate but no remedy. If we are going to mandate a “substantially equivalent” education then someone needs to have the authority to enforce it. This legislation will provide procedures for the State Education Department to properly investigate a claim and several remedies to ensure that changes to instruction and curriculum are implemented,” said Zebrowski.

If a non-public school is found to not be providing a “substantially equivalent” education, the commissioner shall take action(s) to ensure compliance. The legislation includes several remedies for the commissioner to utilize including, imposing a corrective action plan, installation of a temporary educational observer, suspension of school registration, withholding of reimbursements, or permanent revocation of school registration.

“Education is the key to success of children and any situation where it is deprived, regardless of whether they attend a public or private school, must be corrected. Parents and students shouldn’t be forced to hire lawyers in order to learn the basic math and reading skills needed to succeed in life. I am hopeful that this plan will encourage those who are not receiving an adequate education to step up and be heard,” concluded Zebrowski.