High Court orders government to justify shortening special education school day

ALUT nonprofit for autistic children files petition seeking injunction against Education Ministry's plan to end classes at 4 p.m. instead of 4:45 p.m. in upcoming school year

Illustrative: A kindergarten teacher seen at the 'Kobi kindergarten' in Moshav Yashresh, on February 8, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice on Sunday ordered the government to respond within two weeks to a petition against a plan to shorten the school day for children in special education frameworks beginning this fall.

The petition, filed by ALUT, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children, sought to have the court issue an injunction against the Education Ministry’s plan to end the school day for those with special needs at 4 p.m. instead of 4:45 p.m.

“The decision by the Education Ministry is unreasonable and disproportionate, and is expected to seriously and unnecessarily harm tens of thousands of students on the autism spectrum and their parents,” ALUT said in a statement.

The nonprofit organization wrote in the petition that the Education Ministry made the decision without differentiating between local councils that are able to fund and staff the longer school day and those that are not. The ministry decision was made last month, citing a lack of manpower for the longer day.

Supreme Court Justice Khaled Kabub ordered the Education Ministry to provide a response to the petition by August 1, noting the narrow timeframe it has to act before the start of the school year on September 1.

According to ALUT, there are more than 31,000 autistic children and teenagers in Israel who are enrolled in special education frameworks, including in 885 specialized nursery schools, 79 specialized schools and more than 1,000 classrooms within standard schools designed for those on the autism spectrum.

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