Three years ago, the Education Ministry issued a directive stating that even if parents refuse to pay for their children's participation in extracurricular activities, the school must still include those students in their programs.
Now a new ministry edict threatens to overturn the directive meant to ensure equality among the students.
The parents refusing to pay for their child's participation in after school activities (yearly field trips included), usually do so out of principle, as they believe that it's the state's responsibility to pay any extra expenses as part of the law stating that education up until the 12th grade is mandatory.
In 2016, the Ministry of Education issued a directive stating that children of parents refusing to pay out of principle should not be excluded from any extracurricular activities whatsoever.
"The exclusion and estrangement of a child from any activities where the child's entire class is participating, is a move which serves to hurt the child, and not the parents who committed the offence," says the ministry's 2016 directive, which also allows the school to use legal procedures in order to obtain payment from the parents after the participation of their child.
Recently, many parents have asked the Ministry of Education to clarify their policy regarding the participation of students whose parents refused to pay out of principle.
As a result, the ministry's department of law and policy issued a statement clarifying that, "a school can decline to provide a student an activity which the student's parent opted not to pay for" - effectively reversing the Education Ministry's directive.
Vered Windman, the head of the Israel National Council for the Child's legal department, said she was appalled by the ministry's new directive.
"Ignoring our objection to the demand that parents pay for any extracurricular activities, a child should never be punished for the decisions of his parents, whether justifiable or not," says Windman.
"This is with accordance with the student rights' law, which states that any punishment inflicted on the student due to the action of his parents is not only wrong, but may result in sanctions against the educational institution that does so."
According to Windman, its up to the Education Ministry to make sure that schools around the country adhere to the law.
"If the ministry won’t uphold students' rights, it will not only commit a great injustice, it will also break the law," Windman says.
The National Parent Organization also criticized the Education Ministry directive, saying it incumbent on the state to meet expenses incurred during mandatory education.
"The state must subsidize expenses during a student's obligatory education along with the cancellation of any further payments by the parents," the organization said.
"Even though we believe its the right of any parents to choose not to pay for any extracurricular activities, we also believe that the burden of payment shouldn't fall on those willing to pay."
The Education Ministry said in response that schools can remove children from those activities for which their parents do not wish to pay.
"We haven't changed any regulations regarding parents' payments since 2003, [which] states that if a child's parents refuse to pay, the school can decline to include the child in any further activities," the ministry said.
First published: 16:53 , 12.23.19