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Federal File: Return to sender; Transitions

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A recent report on civil-rights enforcement disclosed that a Georgia school district once took the unusual step of returning $91,844.53 in federal money.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that civil-rights laws applied only to federally funded programs, the Education Department determined that impact aid was the only type of education grant that still subjected a school district to systemwide coverage.

Shortly after that, the Cobb County school district repaid its 1986 impact-aid grant, the only district to do so.

An accompanying letter, reproduced in the report by the House Education and Labor Committee, said Cobb acted "in order to bring the [district] into compliance with" the ruling in Grove City v. Bell.

The letter implies--and the report states--that the district acted to avoid systemwide civil-rights coverage.

But Comptroller Bill Rogers and Harold Posey, a school-board member, said they don't remember it that way, and are puzzled as to why the letter was worded the way it was.

"I think the paperwork was just more effort than it was worth," Mr. Posey said.

"I thought it was strictly a dollars and cents decision," Mr. Rogers said. "I didn't know there were any other reasons."

The Grove City ruling was reversed by legislation last year, but Cobb County has not reapplied for impact aid.

When he takes over as president of the Madison Center this week, it won't be the first time John Agresto has followed William J. Bennett.

Mr. Agresto, a deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, followed Mr. Bennett to Washington from North Carolina's National Humanities Center when he was named neh chairman in 1981, then served as acting chairman after Mr. Bennett became Secretary of Education.

Mr. Agresto was tapped in 1986 to head the National Archives, but the nomination died in the Senate. Critics noted that he had also followed Mr. Bennett's lead in refusing to submit affirmative-action goals for neh

Mr. Bennett, who has been nominated to be the first federal "drug czar," helped found the center, which promotes "traditional liberal education."

Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who lost his Senate seat in November, will head Research! America, a new nonprofit group.

It will promote medical and scientific research, which the Connecticut Republican championed as a senator--along with education programs, particularly those for handicapped children.--jm

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