Adalah to Education Ministry: Cancel Decision to Move 55 Arab Bedouin Special Education Students to Distant School
(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) Adalah sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Education, Gideon Sa’ar, and to the Director of the Southern District of the Education Ministry, Ms. Amira Haim, on 27 September 2012, demanding the cancellation of a decision to transfer 55 Arab Bedouin students in a special education program from the town of Kassifa located in the Naqab (Negev) desert to another school in the village Molda/Attrash, as the new school is located far from the students’ homes and does not offer the minimum necessary level of security and accessibility. Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher sent the letter on behalf of the parents of all the students.
The children’s parents learned of the decision to transfer them from unofficial sources very close to the beginning of the school year. The ministry did not consult the families before making the decision. The parents sent a representative delegation to visit the new school in Molda/Attrash, and saw that it lacked all necessary facilities and equipment to accommodate the students in the school. Special facilities are crucial as the students cope with mental and physical disabilities. For example, two girls suffer from cerebral palsy. One of them is unable to stand up or walk, and the other must remain lying down. A third girl suffers from epilepsy, and if left alone, can walk aimlessly for several kilometers, exposing her to danger.
In addition, the school is not connected to the electricity grid, so the students cannot use any electrical equipment that they need and the staff cannot run a refrigerator to store medication that many of them require. Finally, the new school is 45 minutes away from their homes, while their school in Kassifa was only 15 minutes away. The longer trip is more dangerous for the students because of their health conditions.
Attorney Zaher emphasized in the letter that the decision to move the students far from their homes to a facility that cannot accommodate their special needs is illegal and constitutes a violation of the students’ rights, including their right to special education. The decision is dangerous to their health and bodily integrity, and infringes on their constitutional right to life. As the Ministry of Education took the decision without consulting the students’ parents, it also constitutes a violation of the students’ and their parents’ rights to dignity.