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President Reagan has issued a call for the development of a new child-protection partnership between the federal government and the private sector.

The Presidential initiative, to be announced by the end of April, would involve the Justice Department, the Education Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as schools, law-enforcement agencies, and social-service groups.

In a meeting early this month with representatives from these groups, the President said he would ask Attorney General Edwin Meese 3rd to design a "plan of action" to coordinate activities within the federal government and with the private sector on such issues as missing children, child abuse and neglect, crime prevention, and general child safety, according to Katy Boyle, special assistant to Assistant Attorney General Lois Harrington.

Among those attending the April 3 meeting were representatives from the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Education Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Also attending were representatives from the Attorney General's Missing Children's Advisory Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Sheriffs' Association.

A federal judge has ruled that the Education Department illegally denied promotions to two of its civil-rights lawyers promotions who refused to submit to a full background check.

Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the two lawyers in the office for civil rights--Kathleen Flake and William A. Delaney--to be promoted to senior trial attorneys, "retroactive in every respect," including back pay, to August 1984.

The ocr lawyers filed suit last November, claiming that an in-depth background check would have been an "unwarranted invasion of privacy and a violation of equal-protection principles," since other senior trial attorneys did not have to undergo the clearances. (See Education Week, Dec. 12, 1984.)

Judge Oberdorfer said the lawyers' positions do not relate to national security and thus do not require an extensive background check. He also rejected the department's claim that the lawyers' suit was "moot'' because they had been promoted retroactive to last October. "It appears that but for the challenged security investigation requirement, the plaintiffs' applications were complete and they would have been promoted in August, two months before the Oct. 22 retroactive date determined by the [department]," the judge wrote.

Linda Chavez, staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was appointed last week to the position of White House director of public liaison.

Ms. Chavez was an aide to Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and a Congressional staff member before President Reagan picked her for the post at the civil-rights commission in August 1983.

Her appointment will not require Senate confirmation before she assumes her new duties, in which she will coordinate White House outreach activities. Ms. Chavez, one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in the Administration, is replacing Faith Ryan Whittlesey, who will become the ambassador to Switzerland.

Ms. Chavez's public comments and management style at the civil-rights commission provoked strong criticism from those who claim that she politicized the historically independent panel's work. She vigorously denied those charges. (See Education Week, March 6, 1984.)

A registered Democrat, Ms. Chavez said she would switch her party affiliation to the gop

Twenty senators have called for the establishment of a national panel--to include members from education, industry, the military, and the government--to study the causes of illiteracy in America.

"Illiteracy is consuming more and more of our tax dollars for remedial courses in schools, colleges, government agencies, and even the Armed Forces," said Senator Edward Zorinsky, Democrat of Nebraska, who introduced the measure, S 102, on April 3 and similar legislation last year.

He cited the U.S. Army, which last year spent more than $14 million ''to bring its recruits up to the 9th-grade level in reading--and 90 percent of them were high-school graduates."

The proposed "National Commission on Illiteracy" would have 16 members, eight appointed by the President, eight by the Congress. Senator Zorinsky explained that the federal panel is necessary to examine illiteracy because the states have failed "to take action themselves."

Authorized to spend $1 million next year, the panel would identify causes and recommend solutions to the illiteracy problem, but would not create federal policy, Senator Zorinsky said.

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