Adalah petitions Israeli Jerusalem District Court to cancel racist and discriminatory procedure for appointing teachers in Arab special education schools

According to experts and parents, the appointment of teaching staff in special education schools is made according to partly irrelevant criteria and leads to a violation of students’ right to education and teachers' right to occupational equality

On 27 February 2022, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed an administrative petition to the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of Jusour - Bridges for Autism and the Chair of the Parents' Committee in Amar School in Haifa, Ms. Hanin Shomli, seeking to exclude special education schools from the discriminatory appointment procedure of teachers in public Arab schools. The petition was filed by Adalah Attorney Salam Irsheid.


CLICK HERE to read the petition


Since the mid-1980s, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has employed two separate tracks of appointing teaching staff in official educational institutions, one for Jewish schools and the other for Arab schools. In Jewish schools, the principals have complete discretion for selecting teachers, and in Arab schools, selection is based on a scoring system according to fixed criteria and principals have no discretion in the appointment process whatsoever. According to the MoE, this method is used in order to prevent irrelevant, ulterior considerations in the appointment process. It was put in place due to a surplus of teachers in the Arab education system and what it defined as the "lack of mobility of the Arab population in accordance with the labor supply."


The petitioners argued that the separate appointment procedures on the basis of national belonging constitutes severe discrimination; that it totally usurps the power of school principals in Arab schools; and that the Ministry is acting without legal authority. This distinction is unlawful, the petitioners stressed, and only serves to fuel racist prejudices concerning the integrity of Arab school principals.


The petitioners further argued that this policy severely violates students’, parents’ and teachers’ rights. These violations are even more striking in the case of schools for children with special needs, where qualified teaching staff is so key for the development of the children.


The petition also relied on the expert opinion of Dr. Kareem Nasser, an occupational therapist and researcher, who specializes in the education of children and adolescents with autism. Dr. Nasser examined the negative implications of the appointment procedure for Arab special education institutions. He concluded that the appointment procedure is based, in part, on irrelevant considerations, that even lead to the prioritization of teachers whose qualifications do not meet students’ needs. The Ministry’s policy, which maintains full discretion for principals of Jewish schools only, deepens the gaps in the quality of education offered in Jewish and Arab schools. As a result, many Arab parents prefer to enroll their children in Jewish special education institutions.


CLICK HERE to read Dr. Kareem Nasser’s expert opinion


Adalah Attorney Salam Irsheid added:


"The long-standing discrimination in the Arab education system has led to a shortage of jobs for Arab teachers, and in this case, the Education Ministry also assumes – with clear prejudice - that Arab school principals will consequently be biased in appointing teachers. In the name of creating seemingly objective indices, the Ministry of Education has created a scoring method that has nothing to do with special needs childrens' educational needs. First and foremost, this method harms the children and the quality of the education that they receive. This practice is fundamentally wrong, and has no place in the education system in Israel in the 21st century."

Picture: Arab48