Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hasidic school opens quietly in Bloomingburg 

A private Hasidic school opened in Bloomingburg in early April, but its existence has been veiled in mystery, according to Tim Mains, superintendent of the Pine Bush School District.

The Mosdos Satmar of Bloomingburg is a private school on Main Street that has been open since the beginning of April, according to a school administrator. No further information was provided by the school.

Mains said he didn’t know the school was open - or even where it was - until Monday.

As a religious school, it is not required to register with the state Department of Education or to contact the public school, according to the department.

On Tuesday, Mosdos Satmar was registered with the state, department officials said. Registration requires completing the “21 Item Checklist,” which includes providing information about curriculum, staff and admission policies.

Because the private school is in the Pine Bush district, Mains must make sure the students at Mosdos Satmar receive a “substantially equivalent education” to Pine Bush students, he said.

“They have to have English language arts, math, social studies, physical education and all that,” Mains said. “Part of my responsibility is to make sure that that’s happening, but I can’t figure that out if I don’t know if there’s a school, where the school is or who’s running it.”

It’s virtually impossible to do his due diligence when a school has been running without his knowledge, he said.

“In an ideal world, a private school should reach out to the district in which they’re located,” he said.

The district must also provide transportation and special education services if requested, but Mains has not heard anything from the private school about this either, he said.

Mosdos Satmar is owned by the Learning Tree Properties and developer Shalom Lamm, who was arrested with two associates in December 2016 and charged with voter fraud. Lamm is the developer of Chestnut Ridge, a partially built 396-unit Hasidic townhouse community in the village.

The school was approved by the Town of Mamakating Planning Board in March 2015, after the Village of Bloomingburg Planning Board rejected the proposal in 2013.


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