Press Release

Jewish parents & schools asking appeals court to protect children with disabilities Ninth Circuit to decide if California can exclude Jewish families & schools from special education funding

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – A group of Jewish families and schools will be in federal appeals court next week fighting a California law that denies special education funding to religious schools and to the families for whom a religious school is the best placement for their child with disabilities. In Loffman v. California Department of Education, Orthodox Jewish parents are fighting for the ability to send their children with disabilities to schools that will best serve their children, as permitted by federal law. California politicians, however, have blocked federal and state special education funding from being used at religious schools—even though it is available to families whose children attend hundreds of other private schools across California and even out of state. Becket and Teach Coalition, an initiative of the Orthodox Union that advocates for equitable government funding for nonpublic schools, are helping these parents and schools stop California from denying crucial benefits to Jewish children with disabilities.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law intended to ensure that children with disabilities receive an education that meets their unique needs. IDEA provides federal funding to states, including California, for special education programs in public schools. But public schools cannot always meet the needs of students with disabilities, so federal and state law allow that funding to be used at private schools that can provide that critical support. In California, however, state politicians have blocked private religious schools access to this funding, leaving religious parents with no opportunity to place their children in schools that nurture their faith and support their unique needs, while allowing families who desire a private education to choose a school suited to their child’s unique needs. 

Chaya and Yoni Loffman, Fedora Nick and Morris Taxon, and Sarah and Ariel Perets are Orthodox Jewish parents of children with disabilities for whom California’s public schools are not providing an adequate education. These families want the same opportunity as families who have children with disabilities that can’t be served by public schools: placement in a private school that best meets their child’s needs. Shalhevet High School and Yavneh Hebrew Academy are Jewish primary and secondary schools that offer an excellent education but are barred from providing families with state-funded special education services under California law. Becket and Teach Coalition are working together to ensure equal access to special education funding regardless of one’s religion—a result that, according to a recent poll, most Californians support. 

Oral Argument in Loffman v. California Department of Education  

Arguing before the court: 
Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket

Tuesday, May 7, 2024, at approximately 10:30 a.m. PT   

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
125 South Grand Avenue 
Pasadena, CA 91105
Watch the livestream here: 

Becket attorneys will be available for comment following the hearing.  

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.