81 N.Y.2d 518, Grumet v. Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village School Dist.

Citation:81 N.Y.2d 518, 601 N.Y.S.2d 61
Party Name:Grumet v. Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village School Dist.
Case Date:July 06, 1993
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 518

81 N.Y.2d 518

601 N.Y.S.2d 61

Louis GRUMET, Individually and as Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, Inc., et al., Respondents,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the KIRYAS JOEL VILLAGE SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Appellants.

New York Court of Appeals

July 6, 1993. Certiorari Granted Nov. 29, 1993. See 114 S.Ct. 544.

Page 519

[601 N.Y.S.2d 62] Nathan Lewin and Lisa D. Burget, of the District of Columbia Bar, admitted pro hac vice, and DeLorenzo, Gordon, Pasquariello, Weiskopf & Harding, P.C., Schenectady (Eric A. Tepper, of counsel), for Board of Educ. of the Kiryas Joel Village School Dist., appellant.

Ingerman, Smith, Greenberg, Gross, Richmond, Heidelberger, Reich & Scricca, Northport (Lawrence W. Reich, of counsel), for Board of Education of the Monroe-Woodbury Cent. School Dist., appellant.

Page 520

Jay Worona, Slingerlands, and Pilar Sokol, for respondents.

Robert Abrams, Atty. Gen., Albany (Julie S. Mereson, Jerry Boone and Peter H. Schiff, of counsel), in his statutory capacity under Executive Law § 71.

Page 521

Marc D. Stern and Lois C. Waldman, New York City, for the American Jewish Congress, amicus curiae.

Gary J. Simson and Glenn G. Galbreath, Ithaca, for the Anti-Defamation League, amicus curiae.

Stanley Geller, New York City, for Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty, amicus curiae.

Page 522

Bernard F. Ashe, Gerard John De Wolf and Rocco A. Solimando, Albany, for New York State United Teachers, amicus curiae. [601 N.Y.S.2d 63] OPINION OF THE COURT

SMITH, Judge.

Plaintiffs, citizen taxpayers of this State, maintained this action against defendants Board of Education of the Kiryas Joel Village School District and Board of Education of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, challenging the enactment of chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989. That statute established a separate public school district in and for the Satmarer Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel, Orange County. 1 Plaintiffs alleged that chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989 violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' summary judgment motion, concluding, inter alia, that chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989 has the effect of advancing the religious beliefs of the Satmarer Hasidim inhabitants of the

Page 523

Village of Kiryas Joel. The Appellate Division affirmed (187 A.D.2d 16, 592 N.Y.S.2d 123), determining that the challenged statute violates the second prong of the test in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 91 S.Ct. 2105, 29 L.Ed.2d 745. Defendants appeal as of right from the order of the Appellate Division which finally determines an action that directly involves the construction of the Federal Constitution (CPLR 5601[b]. The issue before us is whether chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989, entitled "AN ACT to establish a separate school district in and for the village of Kiryas Joel, Orange county", violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution. We now modify the order of the Appellate Division, agreeing that the statute violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution.

I.

The Village of Kiryas Joel was formed by, and is composed almost entirely of members of the Satmarer Hasidic sect. In addition to separation from the outside community, separation of the sexes is observed within the Village. Yiddish is the principal language of Kiryas Joel. No television, radio, or English language publications are generally used. There is a male and female dress code. For the most part, the children are educated in religiously affiliated schools. The boys attend the United Talmudic Academy and are educated in the Torah. The girls attend Bais Rochel and are instructed on what they will need to function as adult women (see, Board of Educ. v. Wieder, 72 N.Y.2d 174, 179-180, 531 N.Y.S.2d 889, 527 N.E.2d 767). These differences have led to a series of court cases involving the Satmarer Hasidim. 2

Prior to the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402, 105 S.Ct. 3232, 87 L.Ed.2d 290 [1985], the handicapped children living in Kiryas Joel received special education services

Page 524

from Monroe-Woodbury Central School District personnel in an annex to [601 N.Y.S.2d 64] one of the Kiryas Joel religious schools. In Aguilar, the United States Supreme Court considered whether a program under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 authorizing the use of Federal funds to pay salaries of public employees who teach in parochial schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Concluding that such a program was unconstitutional, the Court stated: "We have long recognized that underlying the Establishment Clause is 'the objective ... to prevent, as far as possible, the intrusion of either [church or state] into the precincts of the other * * * ' Lemon v. Kurtzman, supra, [403 U.S.] at 614 [91 S.Ct. at 2112]" (id., at 413, 105 S.Ct. at 3238) and "the scope and duration of [the] Title I program would require a permanent and pervasive state presence in the sectarian schools receiving aid." (Id., at 412-413, 105 S.Ct. at 3238.) In response to the Aguilar decision, the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District stopped providing the special education programs at the religious school annex. For some time thereafter, some of the handicapped Satmarer Hasidic children attended special education classes held at the Monroe-Woodbury public schools. However, allegedly because of the "panic, fear and trauma [the children] suffered in leaving their own community and being with people whose ways were so different from theirs," the parents stopped sending them to programs offered at the public schools (Board of Educ. v. Wieder, 72 N.Y.2d, at 181, 531 N.Y.S.2d 889, 527 N.E.2d 767, supra).

In Board of Educ. v. Wieder (supra) this Court construed Education Law § 3602-c 3 to authorize special education services to private school handicapped children and afford them an option of dual enrollment in public schools. We concluded that section 3602-c neither compels boards of education to make special education services available to private school handicapped children only in regular public school classes and programs, nor renders them powerless to provide otherwise (id., at 187, 531 N.Y.S.2d 889, 527 N.E.2d 767).

Thereafter, the Legislature enacted chapter 748 of the Laws

Page 525

of 1989, which created a new union free school district, the Kiryas Joel Village School District, in the Incorporated Village of Kiryas Joel in the Town of Monroe, Orange County. The newly established Kiryas Joel Village School District was coterminous with the Satmarer Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel, and was created within the boundaries of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District. Chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989 also established a board of education, composed of five to nine members elected by the voters of the Village, that would serve for a period not to exceed five years. Chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989 represents "an effort to resolve a longstanding conflict between the Monroe-Woodbury School District and the village of Kiryas Joel, whose population are all members of the same religious sect" (Governor's Approval Mem., 1989 N.Y.Legis.Ann., at 324).

Plaintiffs Louis Grumet and Albert Hawk commenced this action individually, as citizen taxpayers, and as Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, Inc. and President of the New York State School Boards Association, Inc., respectively, against the New York State Education Department and various State officials, alleging, inter alia, that chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989 violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution. The Board of Education of the Kiryas Joel Village School District and the Board of Education of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District intervened as defendants. The parties stipulated to a discontinuance of the action as to the State officials, but, pursuant to Executive Law § 71, the State Attorney-General continued to [601 N.Y.S.2d 65] appear in this action in support of the constitutionality of chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989. Both parties sought summary judgment. On their motion, plaintiffs asserted that chapter 748 violates the Federal constitutional provisions prescribing separation of church and State. Defendants sought a judgment declaring the facial constitutionality of the statute.

Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' summary judgment motion, concluding that the statute is unconstitutional because it "was enacted to meet exclusive religious needs and has the effect of advancing, protecting and fostering the religious beliefs of the inhabitants of the school district[, and] * * * fosters excessive entanglements with religion" (Grumet v. New York State Educ. Dept., 151 Misc.2d 60, 64, 579 N.Y.S.2d 1004). The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that chapter 748 of the Laws of 1989 "authorizes a religious community to dictate where

Page 526

secular public educational services shall be provided to children of the community [and] * * * creates the type of symbolic impact that is impermissible under the second prong of the Lemon test" (187 A.D.2d 16, 22, 592 N.Y.S.2d 123, supra ).

The prior courts concluded that plaintiffs fulfill the requirement for citizen-taxpayer status contained in State Finance Law § 123-a and, therefore, have standing to maintain this action. That conclusion is not contested on this appeal.

II.

Before this Court, defendants maintain that, based on Lemon v. Kurtzman (supra), chapter 748 is constitutionally valid on its face.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states that "Congress shall...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP