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E.D. Replaces Head of Office of Private Education

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Washington--Charles J. O'Malley, the head of the Education Department's office of private education, has been replaced after nearly 10 years in the job, as part of Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander's shakeup of the department.

The Secretary "has indicated he would like to place his own people in policy-development positions," Mr. O'Malley wrote in a letter last month to colleagues explaining his departure, which took effect April 12.

In a meeting with private-school educators last week, Mr. Alexander said he had no plans to make further changes in the office, which serves as the liaison between the department and private education groups and works to ensure that eligible private-school children participate equitably in federal education programs.

But, according to several of those present, the Secretary did not rule out a change in any future reorganization of the Education Department.

Michelle Easton, the department's former deputy undersecretary for intergovernmental and interagency affairs, has been appointed acting head of the office, said Etta Fielek, a spokesman for Mr. Alexander.

Mr. O'Malley was first appointed executive assistant for private education in October 1981, by then-Secretary Terrel H. Bell. He kept the post under Secretaries William J. Bennett and Lauro F. Cavazos.

"He worked very hard to ensure that private-school students would be included in federal programs," said Sister Lourdes Sheehan, secretary for education of the United States Catholic Conference.

Private education groups would like to see the liaison post restored to the status of assistant secretary of education, which it had during the Carter Administration.

But Mr. Alexander suggested last week that as policy debates increasingly include public and private schools, there may be no need in the future for a separate office for private education.

"He said he had no intentions of making any major changes at this point, but his ultimate goal was one of bringing all of American education into harmony," said Sister Catherine T. McNamee, president of the National Catholic Educational Association, who attended the meeting. ''He seemed to suggest a separate office pushed private education out of the mainstream."

But the private-school community "strongly supports an active and dynamic private-school office in the department," said Joyce McCray, executive director of the Council for American Private Education.

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