Washington Hebrew congregation violated DC law, judge rules


A judge has ruled that the Hebrew Congregation of Washington violated the district’s consumer protection law when it failed to follow several child safety rules while operating its preschool, the latest in a ongoing lawsuit between the city and the Northwestern Washington Synagogue.

Other allegations set out in the 2020 lawsuit filed by DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) — including an allegation that the congregation misrepresented the safety of its programs to parents — will go to trial, the judge said. Alfred S. Irving Jr.

The district alleged that the congregation frequently ignored city laws designed to keep children safe. His lawsuit followed charges that a teacher sexually abused more than a dozen toddlers for more than a year, which are detailed in a separate lawsuit against the synagogue that was filed by a group of parents. in 2019.

DC sues Hebrew Congregational Kindergarten in Washington for failing to protect children from alleged sexual abuse

In April, Racine’s office filed a motion for summary judgment, a request that the court rule before a trial. Irving on Sept. 13 ruled on some of the city’s allegations and said others should be tried by jury.

He ruled the congregation breached safety regulations by hiring unqualified teachers and teaching assistants, failing to keep records that showed staff were qualified, and running an unlicensed summer program.

He also ruled that the congregation failed to properly report alleged cases of child abuse — unrelated to the parents’ sexual abuse lawsuit — to the district government on at least three occasions. Those cases, from 2016 and 2018, involved accusations that staff members used physical force with children, according to court documents.

By violating child safety rules, Irving said, the congregation violated the city’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which prohibits deceptive and illegal business practices, according to court documents.

“The Washington Hebrew Congregation broke the law and ignored rules designed to protect the children in their care — with truly tragic consequences,” Racine said in a statement. “Child care providers must hire qualified teachers and teaching assistants and immediately report any suspicion of child abuse. With this decision, we are one step closer to accountability.

D.C. Hebrew school says parents waived right to sue for sexual abuse

Jennifer Millstone, director of congregational member engagement, said leaders took all allegations seriously and reported them to DC police and child protective services as soon as they had been discovered. She added that the congregation continues to do background checks on future educators and staff are involved in training and development.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of the children in our care is an integral part of our Jewish values. Throughout the criminal investigation, we have provided support and resources to help them and their families,” Millstone said. “We sympathize with the anger and pain felt by the families and have worked tirelessly with all parties to explore all avenues of resolution.”

Irving sided with the congregation in one case: He ruled that the district “failed to discharge its charge and that the court” regarding an allegation by Washington Hebrew had violated the law on non-profit corporations in the city. Several other allegations — including an allegation that the synagogue violated a city bylaw that requires at least two adults to be present with toddlers at licensed child development centers — will go on trial. A trial date has not yet been set.

DC authorities say there is ‘insufficient cause’ to make an arrest for alleged preschool sex abuse

Irving also denied the city’s motion for summary judgment regarding an allegation that the congregation “has violated the laws and regulations of the District of Columbia, continues to violate such laws and regulations, and may violate such laws and regulations in the future,” according to court documents. The judge wrote that Washington Hebrew has implemented a corrective action plan from the State Superintendent’s Office of Education and that the education agency issued a license in 2019 for the congregation to operate a facility year-round. ‘year.

Additionally, OSSE inspection reports from 2020 and 2021 indicated that the congregation had complied with agency regulations, according to court documents.

Then the court can decide whether to determine remedies for violations of the law before other claims are adjudicated or to wait until after.

Families Sue Washington Hebrew Kindergarten Over Alleged Sexual Abuse

This decision comes after the evolution of the lawsuit between Washington Hebrew and a group of parents who say their children were sexually abused at school.

Court papers filed in July showed the synagogue argued parents waived their right to sue when they signed activity waivers when enrolling their children in the school. ‘school.

The documents signed by the parents included a statement that “neither the parents nor their children will pursue any claim against WHC or any of its employees for injuries sustained” as a result of “a child’s participation in these activities”. [of the Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center]’, show court documents.

But the parents understood that these “activities” included “typical preschool activities,” their attorneys responded in court records. “Not a single plaintiff parent who signed the waiver contemplated that it would cover injuries suffered as a result of the sexual abuse of their children by a trusted WHC employee.”

A trial date for that case has been set for March 13.


Comments are closed.