Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday did not refute reports that he assured a prominent rabbi he would keep his hands off yeshivas in exchange for an endorsement — instead pointing to his lack of control over the state Education Department.
The department is currently reviewing a long-delayed city Department of Education probe of whether 30 yeshivas have been meeting minimum requirements for secular education, a 3-year effort in which officials were blocked from visiting half the schools.
Asked about reports that he had essentially told Satmar Rebbe Zalman Tietelbaum not to worry about the matter last week, Cuomo wouldn’t address the question head on.
“The State Education Department will enforce the law, but it’s not the governor’s responsibility. I have no control of the state Education Department,” he told reporters following a press conference at the Tappan Zee Bridge, which has been renamed for the governor’s father, Mario Cuomo.
City officials punted their probe to the state because the state Education Department has ultimate oversight over what’s taught in non-public schools.
Advocates had complained in 2015 that many yeshivas were violating the state requirement that they provide a secular education equivalent to what students get in public schools.
The advocates accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of purposely dragging out the probe to appease the Hasidic Jewish community, which is a powerful political voting block.