Parents of a 12-year-old girl are claiming their daughter was abused in the “Mishkenot Da’at” Beit Yaakov school in Beit Shemesh.
The girl, who is in the school’s special ed class, was punished by the school’s principal and told not to “even stick her nose” out of the classroom for five hours – including to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom.
“The girl is a twin, whose sister learns in the other local branch of Mishkenot Da’at,” the girl’s attorney told Kikar News. “According to her parents, their daughter has not been treated well since the she began studying at the school in September. They believe the real reason for the staff’s behavior is that the family is Sephardic.”
“The staff’s behavior became absolutely awful when the girl arrived at school one day with shoes that did not match the uniform, because they had a touch of fabric.
The principal screamed at her, and told her to stay in the classroom until further notice, and ‘not even to stick her nose outside the room.’
“This girl is 12 years old, she’s in special ed, and because she was so scared, she stayed in the classroom for five hours, unable to eat or drink.
“After a few months, I turned to the police and was told that the case had been re-opened. Meaning, they closed the case without doing or saying anything at all.”
The mother said her daughter was placed in the school by the local haredi board, but that the school told her it was not certain her daughter would be accepted.
“The principal began asking me a lot of inappropriate questions about my origins – despite the fact that the local authorities had already placed my daughter in this school,” the mother said in an interview. “I was very angry and I told the school that our daughter’s previous school will be happy to answer any questions they may have.”
“My daughter changed schools so that she could receive the help she needed. All my girls learned in Beit Yaakov; this daughter and her twin are our youngest. We’re not a problematic family, the community knows us, but because our last name is Sephardic, the principal decided she didn’t like us.
“As a result of the principal’s threat and the continued shaming and stress, my daughter’s condition began to deteriorate. She began having nightmares and other symptoms, and was eventually diagnosed as suffering from post trauma.
“Her doctors explained to me that every day she’s in school, she relives the suffering. I was forced to take her out of school, and she stayed home for a month and a half. Now she is enrolled in a different haredi school.
“I don’t have any clear proof that there is a connection between my daughter’s suffering and the staff’s behavior, but the moment we submitted a complaint, my other daughter – who studies in a different branch of the same school – began to be treated differently.
“Suddenly, the principal is claiming that she brings inappropriate materials into the school. I am willing to work with her, and I told her that she can search my daughter’s bag.
Of course, she did not find anything – but she still decided to suspend my daughter, for no reason.
“When I transferred my special ed daughter to a different school, I was warned that the Beit Yaakov school she learned in would not like the transfer, and would cause problems for the daughter who is still studying there. But I had no choice, my special ed daughter had become like a wounded animal, fearful and afraid of her own shadow.”
The principal of Mishkenot Da’at was suspended from her position seven years ago for racist behavior recorded by students’ parents.
After the suspension was over, she went back to her job as principal.
Israel’s haredi education board responded, “The school principal and the child’s teacher both told us their versions of the story, and we are waiting to hear the results of the investigation. At first, both teacher and principal denied the claims.”
“We are surprised by the timing and by the way the case was publicized, especially since the parents have not said anything until now and their claims seem to be unfounded.”
“We are examining the case together with the school’s staff,” Israel’s Education Ministry said. “The staff claims none of these things ever happened.”
“In addition, we are working to ensure the student is completely protected and receiving the education she needs.”