E.D. Rejects Schroeder's Complaint Against Official
Washington--The Education Department has dismissed a Congressional complaint that the director of its regional office in Denver abused official mailing privileges by sending constituents partisan materials favoring a proposed state initiative to create an education-voucher system.
Meanwhile, Representative Patricia Schroeder, Democrat of Colorado, has asked the department's inspector general to undertake a more extensive probe of the activities of the official, Thomas Tancredo.
Ms. Schroeder, chairman of the House Civil Service Subcommittee, lodged a complaint against Mr. Tancredo last spring after she was contacted by constituents who opposed the proposed constitutional amendment. (See Education Week, June 22, 1988.)
State officials announced last month that backers of the voucher system had failed to collect enough signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. Mr. Tancredo, who has been criticized for his use of government mail before, has accused Ms. Schroeder of persecuting him because of his beliefs.
Barbara Buchhorn, an aide in the Education Department's office of intergovernmental and interagency affairs, told Ms. Schroeder in a recent letter that the Postal Service had referred her complaint to ed
"It is clear that the issue of educational vouchers is a proper subject to be addressed by this department," Ms. Buchhorn wrote, adding, "We do not believe that the activities referred to in your letter violate" postal laws.
But she said that the department had taken no position on the Colorado referendum and that it was "regrettable" if Mr. Tancredo "created the appearance that the department has endorsed a particular legislative proposal."
Mr. Tancredo "has been directed to avoid the appearance of such endorsements in the future," the letter said.
But Ms. Schroeder, in a letter also signed by Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, the California Democrat who chairs the Education and Labor Committee, asked the department's inspector general to review all publications mailed by Mr. Tancredo as well as his public statements.
"We believe Mr. Tancredo's mailing an inappropriate expenditure of government funds, his statements a disservice to the department, and his activities an improper use of employee time," Ms. Schroeder wrote.
Among the incidents cited are:
Mr. Tancredo's advocacy of a group called Citizens for Excellence in Education, which critics charge is a primarily religious organization. Mr. Tancredo contends that the group is concerned only with education.
Organization of a department-sponsored workshop at which parents were allegedly urged to remove their children from public schools.
A speech titled "Holding Public Schools Accountable" that Mr. Tancredo allegedly gave at a conference on "How Cults Seduce Your Children."--jm