Thomas G. Tancredo, the Secretary of Education's regional representative in Denver, has come under fire for mailing a 12-page memo throughout six states lamenting the "Godlessness" of public education in "this Christian nation."
In a Jan. 21 letter to Postmaster General Paul N. Carlin, Representative Patricia Schroeder, Democrat of Colorado, requested an investigation to determine whether Mr. Tancredo's letters qualified as official mail entitled to government-paid postage.
According to a spokesman for Representative Schroeder, if postal investigators determine that the content of the letters did not have a bearing on Mr. Tancredo's official functions, he could face a maximum penalty of $300 per letter that he mailed.
"Unless the Department of Education has recently been encargoed with ecclesiastic duties, under some novel reading of the First Amendment, I would suggest that the mailing falls considerably outside" postal regulations, Representative Schroeder said in her letter to Mr. Carlin.
In October 1983, Mr. Tancredo drew criticism from representatives of education organizations after he told a Cheyenne, Wyo., civic group that federal education programs were an "extraneous" government activity and "a detriment and a hinderance" to schooling.
The Education Department's implementation of the controversial Hatch Amendment regulations moves forward, despite opposition from a coalition of 22 Washington-based education associations.
The rules, which went into effect in November, allow parents to review federally financed instructional materials and permit them to refuse to allow their children to submit to federally financed psychological testing.
According to Linda M. Combs, the deputy undersecretary of management, the department is developing a form to be sent to individuals who file complaints under the law.
She added that the department will only investigate charges in these cases if the complainant proves that he or she has tried to settle the grievance at the state and local level.
Ms. Combs made her comments in a letter to Claudia A. Mansfield, government-relations specialist with the American Association of School Administrators and spokesman for the coalition, which argues that the regulations constitute an improper extension of federal authority into local matters.
Ms. Mansfield and representatives of four other associations met on Nov. 28 with Ms. Combs and spokesmen from five conservative groups that support the regulations (See Education Week, Dec. 5, 1984).
Meanwhile, the National School Boards Association, another opponent of the regulations, said in a letter to the Congress that the law--first passed in 1974 and amended in 1978--on which the regulations are based "obviously needs refinements."--tm & jh