Parent board ‘knowingly’ excluded Jews with Sabbath meeting: critics

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By Dan Sears

A parent council in heavily Jewish Brooklyn held a “special meeting” on a Friday evening in January, knowingly excluding anyone observing Shabbat from the public forum, according to outraged community members who called the move antisemitic. 

The Community Education Council for District 22, which covers Flatbush, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, and Manhattan Beach, scheduled a follow-up meeting to vote on resolutions after its Jan. 9 meeting went fully remote due to a snowstorm.

Despite calls to the CEC, the city Department of Education, and the Office of Family and Community Engagement, urging them to choose another date, the forum was held on Jan.19 at 6:30 pm, after the Jewish Sabbath was underway.

“Jewish children go to school here, and their families were excluded,” a district parent told The Post. 

The volunteer board voted on seeking alternatives to mayoral control of NYC schools, supporting class size mandates, and opposing a 60-day limit on shelter stays for migrants and other public school families.

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It also voted against participating in an art and wellness fair and in favor of rescheduling the upcoming March meeting.

A Brooklyn parent council is being criticized for holding a meeting on a Friday night during SHabbat despite calls to reschedule. CEC 22
Community members urged Community Education Council 22 and its president, Tracy Jordan-Bates, to reschedule the January meeting for those observing Shabbat. Facebook Tracy Jordan

The council members plowed through the agenda items in about 15 minutes and included no public participation.

“I think the president of CEC 22 does what she wants,” the parent said, referring to president Tracy Jordan-Bates. “They preach about inclusivity, but they’re not very inclusive. I’d even say there’s some antisemitism there.”

Jewish Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who covers part of the district, slammed the move as discriminatory.

“The idea that these meetings can take place at a time when Jews are observing the Sabbath and are unable to attend is salt to the open wound Jews are feeling in this city,” Vernikov told The Post.

Vernikov filed discrimination complaints with the city and federal education departments.

“Despite numerous pleas by Orthodox Jewish parents, as well as other concerned parents to reschedule this meeting, all requests for accommodation were ignored,” Vernikov wrote. “Public participation by Jewish parents or board members observing the Sabbath would not have been possible at this meeting, as they were knowingly excluded.”

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Vernikov argued the Sabbath meeting violated the Open Meetings Law, and called for an investigation and for Jordan-Bates to be held accountable for the “discriminatory behavior.” 

The meeting was announced on X the day before it was held. The law requires public notice at least one week prior and that notice be posted in a public location at least 72 hours before.

Councilwoman Inna Vernikov filed discrimination complaints over CEC 22’s decision to hold a meeting conflicting with the Sabbath. Stephen Yang

Any actions by a CEC are void if it is not in compliance with the Law, said David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor.

A DOE spokesperson said the agency made the CEC aware of the concerns but that they are “autonomous bodies.”

“While we provide supports to access and interpretation of the law, we don’t regulate them,” the spokesperson said, adding CECs set their own meeting dates.

CEC 22 did not immediately respond to inquiries.

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