The creation of a special school district for Hasidic Jews was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government, New York state's highest court ruled Tuesday.
The Court of Appeals, by a 4-2 margin, rejected the Legislature's 1989 solution to the thorny political problem of how to provide school services to the village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County.
Almost all of the village residents are members of the Satmar Hasidic sect.
The special school district resolved a conflict over providing services to disabled students who were members of the sect.
Judge George Bundy Smith, writing for the court's majority, said it appeared that the Legislature and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo had yielded to the separatist demands of a religious community.
The lawsuit had been brought by the New York State School Boards Assn. Lower courts also had ruled against the district.