All federal agencies last week jointly issued final "drug-free workplace" regulations, including a separate section detailing how the rules apply to student-aid programs.
The regulations implement provisions of a 1988 anti-drug law, which requires all recipients of federal grants and contracts to establish anti-drug policies and certify that their workplaces are free of illegal drugs. Recipients that fail to meet the requirements or to discipline an employee convicted of an on-the-job offense could be barred from receiving any federal funds.
The final rules, which appear in the May 25 Federal Register, include numerous provisions clarifying the preliminary version published last year. They offer a more specific description of which employees are covered and contain an assurance that employees are not required to report the offenses of coworkers.
The Education Department's notice indicates that no substantive changes were made to its original rules, but clarifies their application.
For example, the rules specify that Pell Grant recipients, who must sign their own certifications because they receive grants directly from the government, are required to abstain from drug involvement throughout the grant period, not only when engaged in academic work.
Although a student who refuses to sign a certification form would still be eligible for student loans and grant programs administered through colleges, the amount of the Pell Grant he or she would have received would be counted as a resource in determining awards.
Because institutions distribute aid to students under the campus-based aid programs, their employees are covered, but not the recipient students. In addition, work-study students who have jobs with a college are considered employees under the rules.
A scholarship program for black students at Florida Atlantic University--and similar scholarships at other schools--violate federal civil-rights laws, the Washington Legal Foundation has suggested.
The Florida institution announced this year that it would award full-tuition scholarships to any black person who is accepted as a freshman next year.
In a letter to Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, John C. Scully, counsel to the foundation, argued that the scholarship program violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race.
He also asked that scholarships targeted at racial minorities at other institutions be investigated "because such practices are illegal and undermine the commitment of the government and people of the United States to a color-blind society where reward is based upon merit rather than race."