By Yossi Gestetner
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said he can legally knock down doors to force fire safety inspections at schools. He also said that people can face fines or jail if they obstruct fire inspectors.
As I have said repeatedly in recent months, inspections and safety at schools are very important. An inch should not be given when the safety of students is on the line. The state law governing safety inspections, however, says “the administrator or the designee of the administrator of the school to be inspected shall be given the opportunity to be present during the inspection.”
In the first week of inspections at yeshivas, following Mr. Day’s May 26 press conference, no such accommodations were made. County inspectors arrived unannounced with media in tow.
The law states that school authorities should not refuse access to the inspectors if given “reasonable time” for administrators to attend. The law however does not prescribe a monetary fine nor jail for anyone who does refuse access.
The law authorizes the state’s Commissioner of Education to order “re-inspections until it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that said violations have been corrected.” Shutting down schools that have violations is not part of the remedy; only re-inspections are.
Contrary to what he said the past 10 days, Mr. Day cannot make spot inspections; he cannot knock down doors; he cannot levy fines or arrest anyone for obstructing inspectors, and he cannot close schools even if violations are found. The law is written in a way for authorities to work with school administrators to assure the safety of students. The law is not designed for politicians who want to kidnap the safety of children for political gain.
The writer, a Spring Valley resident, is co-founder, Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC).
This article was first published at Lohud.com.