New York City to Aid Under Privileged Pupils of Religious Day Schools

The New York City Board of Education decided last night to provide Hebrew day schools and other parochial schools with the services of specially hired public school teachers for remedial services and enrichment programs for underprivileged children.

While approving this part of a plan by School Superintendent Bernard Donovan, the Board, at the same time, decided that his proposed program of after-class and summer activities for disadvantaged children in non-public schools would have to be conducted on public school property or other public premises. The Board ruled that teachers could be assigned to parochial schools for such programs during regular classroom hours only on a voluntary basis and also only if the classrooms had all religious elements and symbols removed.

The Board’s action was aimed at allocating about $15,000,000 in Federal funds earmarked for special instruction, remedial reading and speech therapy for poor children in religious and other non-public schools in accordance with the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 which provides for such aid to non-public schools.

In a statement explaining its action on limiting after-school programs to public premises rather than in the parochial schools, the Board cited the argument expressed during hearings that “bringing parochial-school pupils into after-class public school centers would result in a wholesome intermingling of children from different backgrounds. “

The Board’s move to limit after-class activities to public school premises was taken over the opposition of Msgr. Eugene J. Molloy, superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn who said he also spoke for Jewish and Protestant schools who would receive aid under the program. He said the decision “clearly discriminates against children who attend religious schools” who would find it “difficult, if not impossible” to participate.

The Board noted that it was going ahead with the establishment of after school centers in public schools as an experiment for the balance of the school year.

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