Federal News Roundup
The Education Department's office for civil rights is conducting an experiment to determine whether it should randomly select schools and colleges for reviews of their compliance with laws prohibiting bias on the basis of race, sex, age, and handicap, the department announced last month.
Under current policy, the civil-rights office selects sites for such compliance reviews largely on the basis of survey data and on information provided by complainants, special-interest groups, the media, and the general public. The ocr was criticized by civil-rights and education groups last fall for delaying its administration of the two biennial surveys of schools and school districts that it has traditionally used in the selection of compliance-review sites. (See Education Week, Sept. 12, 1984)
In ocr's annual operation plan, published in the Dec. 14 Federal Register, the department said that 5 of its 10 regional civil-rights offices will be involved in the experimental program, which it said was designed "to provide greater flexibility in the targeting of institutions and to help validate ocr's current targeting methods." Offices in three regions will select sites for compliance reviews on a random basis exclusively and offices in two regions will em-ploy random selection for 50 percent of their selections, the department said.
The Children's Defense Fund, calling for Congressional hearings on the federal compensatory-education program, has claimed in a "White Paper" that changes made under the Reagan Administration are "destroying the program."
Basing its findings on telephone interviews with Chapter 1 coordinators in 48 states, the privately funded interest group reported a 15-percent decline between 1979-80 and 1982-83 in the number of students served in the program; a dramatic decrease in parents' involvement; the virtual disappearance of federal oversight, guidance, and technical assistance to states and school districts; and a drastic reduction in state monitoring and guidance in 25 states.
In its paper, cdf attributes the findings to funding cuts and legislative changes enacted at the start of the Reagan Administration. Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981--formerly Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act--is the biggest federal precollegiate education program, funded at $3 billion for the current school year and $3.7 billion for the 1985-86 term.
Copies of the report, "An Interim Report on the Implementation of Chapter 1," are available for $4.75, plus $1 for postage, from cdf, 122 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined last month to review a federal appeals court's ruling requiring a New Jersey school district to pay for psychotherapy treatments for an emotionally disturbed 11-year-old child.
Without comment, the Court let stand the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's ruling last June in Piscataway Township Board of Education v. T.G. (Case No. 84-461). The appeals court held that the therapy provided to the child was part of an individualized education plan that was agreed upon by local education officials and the child's parents and thus was a "related service" under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, P.L. 94-142. The cost of such services, the court said, must be assumed by the school board.
The school board had asked the Court to review the case in light of its decision last July in Irving Independent School District v. Rowley, in which it addressed the scope of "related services" that schools must provide to handicapped children under P.L. 94-142. In that case, the Justices held that a handicapped girl was entitled to catheterization of her bladder because the service did not have to be provided by a physician and because she could not benefit from special education without it. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.)