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Cabinet okays new Education Ministry director after feud over predecessor’s firing

Dalit Stauber previously held the role in 2011-2013; her return comes after reports that minister Shasha-Biton fired previous director over COVID policy disagreements

Dalit Stauber speaks during a conference in Beit Shemesh on March 13, 2013. (Flash90)
Dalit Stauber speaks during a conference in Beit Shemesh on March 13, 2013. (Flash90)

The cabinet on Sunday approved a new Education Ministry director-general, after a high-profile feud between Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and the previous director led to the latter’s firing.

Ministers endorsed Shasha-Biton’s pick of Dalit Stauber, a longtime educator who previously held the same position in 2011-2013 under then-minister Gideon Sa’ar, the current head of Shasha-Biton’s New Hope party.

Stauber has recently served as a lecturer at Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono.

“Dalit is a professional and worthy educator,” Shasha-Biton said in a statement. “Together we can advance the ministry’s professional programs and bring stability to the education system.”

Last week, Shasha-Biton fired the previous director, Yigal Slovik, amid reported disagreements over COVID policies.

Associates of Slovik were reported to have alleged the dispute with Shasha-Biton had centered around the government’s decision to vaccinate children at school. The associates also claimed that Slovik and Shasha-Biton disagreed on measures to be taken in preparation for another wave of COVID-19 infections.

Then the Education Ministry’s head of coronavirus policy, Yogev Nadav, resigned, strengthening the assumption that Shasha-Biton’s firing of Slovik was related to disagreements over coronavirus vaccines for children. According to Hebrew-language media reports, Nadav’s resignation was linked to Shasha-Biton’s firing of Slovik.

Shasha-Biton has insisted that the disagreements had nothing to do with the pandemic.

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and the ministry’s director, Yigal Slovik, speak at a press conference in Tel Aviv, August 31, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Last Tuesday, an official who had worked in Slovik’s office and was dismissed along with him claimed to Channel 12 news that Shasha-Biton had prevented her from providing true morbidity figures to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett due to concerns they would lead to school closures.

Shasha-Biton denied the accusations, charging that the comments about hiding morbidity rates were part of a “media revenge campaign” the former employee was waging together with Slovik.

“This is a heap of lies,” the minister said. “The fact that the employee was not interviewed with her face revealed and in her own voice… proves that this is a collection of lies.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed support for Shasha-Biton after the former employee’s comments were aired, hailing her “professionalism and integrity.”

“All the slander won’t help. We are continuing to change the country together,” Lapid tweeted.

Also coming to her defense, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Shasha-Biton had made the “correct decisions” in firing Slovik and selecting Stauber to replace him.

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