Agudath Israel of America praised several key changes embodied in the recently released Final Rules governing Local Law 2, a new program introduced and championed by Councilman David Greenfield and signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, which will reimburse eligible nonpublic schools for security guard costs in the upcoming school year.
When the Preliminary Rules were released last month, an opportunity was provided to comment on these rules. The Yeshiva Services division of Agudath Israel, led by Mrs. Deborah Zachai and Mr. Avrohom Weinstock, in consort with the JCRC and nonpublic school groups, carefully studied these regulations. Following this review, and after seeking feedback from yeshiva and security leaders, Agudath Israel submitted detailed written comments and oral testimony to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), the city agency charged with administering the program.
The changes incorporated in the Final Rules reflect some of this feedback and will benefit nonpublic school in the following areas:
- The Preliminary Rules stated that reimbursement coverage would not begin on the first day of school if the Memorandum of Understanding is not fully executed by that date, one of the final steps of the application process. A concern was raised that this might result in eligible yeshivos not receiving reimbursement for the opening weeks (or months) of school if there were any hiccups in this new process. The Final Rules allow reimbursement for schools that DCAS duly approves as eligible, from day one of school.
- The Final Rules require security guard companies to obtain worker’s compensation, employer’s liability and disability benefits insurance.
- Eligibility for the program, and the number of guards reimbursed, follows student enrollment. That is, schools must have at least 300 students to be eligible for the program, and schools with 500 or more students are reimbursed for two guards, etc. While implied in earlier communications, the Final Rules clarify that pre-kindergarten (ages 4-5) students are counted in that number, which will allow more schools to be eligible, or be eligible for additional guard reimbursements.
- The Final Rules broaden the scope of required security guard training, as requested by Agudath Israel.
Applications are now open, and nonpublic schools are encouraged to apply at their earliest convenience to ensure coverage.
In another positive development, per Agudath Israel’s request, DCAS has graciously agreed to host workshops on this new program for nonpublic schools. The workshops will take place on August 3, August 22, and September 16. Interested school administrators can reserve space by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Avrohom Weinstock, Agudath Israel’s Associate Director of Education Affairs, said, “We are grateful for our partnerships with other groups and with the yeshiva community, which facilitated more meaningful feedback. We are especially grateful to the city for their receptivity to feedback in crafting the Final Rules for this landmark program.” Added Mrs. Zachai, Agudath Israel’s Director of Education Affairs, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children in these turbulent times; a united effort to this end is a critical hishtadlus.”