ALBANY — A deeply divided Court of Appeals yesterday struck down the state’s third attempt to provide a special school district for the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, finding that the statute “violates Establishment Clause principles by preferring one religion over others.”

Although the law is couched in facially neutral language, the Court found that only two of the state’s 1,546 municipalities meet its restrictive criteria for forming their own school districts: Kiryas Joel and Stony Point.

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