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Proposed Title I Regulations

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After a three-month delay, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell last week approved regulations governing the amended Title I program and the new state block-grants program.

Education Department (ed) officials said the regulations were scheduled for publication in the Feb. 12 issue of the Federal Register. The regulations for the two programs created by the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act (ecia) last summer had originally been scheduled for release last November, but they were held up by disagreements between ed officials and the Office of Management and Budget, ed sources said. The "notice of proposed rulemaking" for Title I (now officially known as Chap-ter I of the ecia) provides what ed officials describe as "streamlined" rules for the program, which aids disadvantaged students. The original Title I program was created in 1965 by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and it has grown since then to be the largest federal education program.

The block-grant program (known as Chapter II) consolidates what formerly were 26 categorical programs into a package of formula grants to states and local school systems.

'New Flexibility'

The new regulations, as proposed by the department, would "address a limited number of issues" and "reflect the new flexibility" intended by the ecia

The new Chapter I regulations cover application procedures for grants to local educational agencies; allocation of funds; project requirements; fiscal requirements; participation in programs for educationally deprived children in private schools; and due-process procedures.

"A [local education agency] is required to consult with parents and teachers of children being served, but it is no longer required to have parent advisory councils," the proposed regulations state.

In addition, the new Chapter I regulations for the former Title I programs would "permit," but not require, that local education officials base their yearly "assessment of education needs" on those educationally deprived children "in the greatest need of special assistance."

For the block grants covered under Chapter II, the ed notice states that regulations are needed for only a few aspects of the program. Those include: how a state or local educational agency obtains funds; fiscal requirements that a state or local educational agency must meet; how children enrolled in private schools participate in programs; and due-process procedures.

Neither Chapter I nor Chapter II would be governed by the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (edgar), according to the proposal.

The ecia, which Congress passed last summer as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, was intended to reduce paperwork and administrative burdens to state and local education officials, while providing financial assistance to students.

When Congress approved the block-grants measure last summer, it was sharply attacked by some critics, who argued that it would reduce the gains made in the past 16 years of federal leadership in meeting the educational needs of poor children.

At the time, state and local officials who are responsible for administering Title I were less critical, but they questioned the lack of federal guidelines. John F. Staehle, director of the ed division of grants, policy and administration, said that state and local administrators will receive a booklet offering non-binding guidelines for the amended Title I program. He said the advisory booklet, which is currently being developed, will be written in a question-and-answer format.

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