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E.D. Drafts Rules for Equal Access

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Washington--The Education Department has prepared regulations for the Equal Access Act, despite a request from a broad coalition of groups that it refrain from doing so.

The draft rules were sent in January over the signature of former Acting Secretary of Education Gary L. Jones to the Office of Management and Budget, according to Alfred L. Alford, who headed the group that drafted the regulations.

The omb reviews all draft regulations before they are published in the Federal Register for public comment. Mr. Alford said he did not know when the management office would complete its review.

The law guarantees the right of student religious, political, and philosophical groups to meet in school before or after noninstructional hours but it also allows officials to bar meetings by all noncurriculum-related groups.

A coalition of interest groups covering a broad ideological spectrum--from the National Association of Evangelicals to the American Civil Liberties Union--has prepared its own guidelines on how to implement the act; many of those groups asked the department not to write separate regulations, according to spokesmen from several of the organizations. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1984.)

Signed by President Reagan last summer, the new law has caused some controversy and confusion because it appears to run counter to four federal circuit-court decisions covering 12 states.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case, Bender v. Williamsport, with issues similar to those raised by the act.


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