Demanding Repairs to Arab Elementary School in Akka to Remove Serious Health and Safety Hazards.

HCJ 1203/06, The el-Manara School's Parents' Committee, et. al. v. the Municipality of Akka, et. al.

Petition submitted in 2/06 to the Supreme Court demanding that the Court compel the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Akka Municipality to repair all safety hazards at the “el-Manara” Arab elementary school in Akka, in accordance with their legal obligations. The school currently has an enrollment of 670 children and was established as recently as 2004. Nevertheless, it suffers from a large number of safety and environmental defects and damage, which, as Adalah argued, must be repaired immediately in order to remove the dangers they pose to the lives of the pupils of the school. As Adalah emphasized, the Municipality has previously acknowledged the health hazards at the school, and the MOE has made several commitments to deal with the issue. Contrary to the MOE’s own regulations, for example, there are no drinking water fountains in the school and children are forced to drink from water faucets in the school’s small toilets. The school’s playgrounds present other serious hazards, as, in addition to lacking shaded areas, the ground is slippery and completely unsafe. Further, the area through which the pupils enter and leave the school is also used as a car park for teachers from el-Manara and neighboring schools, again in breach of the MOE’s regulations. In the petition, Adalah argued that the Municipality of Akka and the MOE’s shortcomings and failure to fulfill their legal obligations and commitments violate the children’s basic constitutional rights to education, health, bodily integrity and dignity.

In 3/06, the MOE and the Municipality responded to the petition, revealing that they had appointed experts to investigate safety concerns at the school, and that the experts concurred with almost all of the petitioners’ arguments. Following the submission of the petition, the Municipality undertook a number of inadequate repairs. For example, the Municipality installed two water fountains at one of the entrances to the school which also present a danger to the children according to one of the reports from the experts appointed by the respondents. Further, the Municipality prevented cars from entering the area by placing a number of stones in their way. However, cars still park in the entryway and continue to pose a safety threat, and a structural, permanent and considered solution which completely separates the pupils from the cars and guarantees a prepared pathway for their use remains to be found.

In 3/06, at a hearing on the petition, the Supreme Court found the petitioners’ facts concerning the existence of numerous safety hazards at the school to be true. In 8/06, the Court ordered the state to complete repairs by the end of 12/06. In 3/07, Adalah visited the school, and found that not all of the required repairs had been completed. Adalah then sent a motion to the Court stating its intention not to withdraw the petition until the school has been made completely safe.

H.C. 1203/06, The el-Manara School’s Parents’ Committee, et. al. v. the Municipality of Akka, et. al. (case pending)