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Federal File: Hawkins awaits regulations; Aid for deaf reporters

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Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has issued a statement castigating the Education Department for failing to quickly issue regulations implementing last year's reauthorization law.

Department officials, however, said the California Democrat is wrong about the number of rules that have been published since the Hawkins-Stafford Act was passed a year ago.

Mr. Hawkins charged that the department had issued "only 3 of the more than 25 sets of final regulations needed to fully implement the programs amended or created by the law."

He said the agency was violating the General Education Provision Act's requirement that rules be issued within eight months of a law's enactment.

"This situation is intolerable for local school districts, parents, and educators," Mr. Hawkins said. He added: "There is no reason to schedule any action or hold hearings on President Bush's new education initiatives in the Education and Labor Committee until the Administration completes the tasks set by the Congress last year. ..."

Department officials said last week that 10 regulations had been issued in final form and 17 in proposed form. Several more are to be published in coming weeks, they said.

A spokesman, Mahlon Anderson, said the department "has placed a very high priority" on the regulations, and began working on them even before the reauthorization bill was enacted last year.

"We are disappointed that Chairman Hawkins has threatened to hold hostage the President's education package," Mr. Anderson said. "The two issues are unrelated, and it would appear that the Congressman has chosen to link them for purely political purposes."

Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos has added a new feature to his news conferences--sign-language interpreters for the deaf.

Last week's "wall chart" news conference was the first ed media event to use them, according to a spokesman, Melinda Kitchell.

Ms. Kitchell noted that interpreters were present at a recent event in Union, N.J., featuring Mr. Cavazos and President Bush, at a talk the Secretary gave for department employees, and at several recent White House functions.

Ms. Kitchell said it was Mr. Cavazos' idea.

"He believes in what he said about educating everybody and serving everybody, all segments of society, including the press," she said.--jm

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