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Congress completed committee assignments last week, after several newly elected members of the House Education and Labor Committee had landed seats on the education subcommittees.

All subcommittee chairmen and ranking members but one retained their seats from the previous session. Tom Petri, R-Wis., is replacing Tom Coleman, R-Mo., who was not re-elected, as the ranking member on the Postsecondary Education and Training Subcommittee, which now handles job training.

The new Democratic members of the Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Subcommittee are Eliot L. Engel of New York; Xavier Becerra of California; Gene Green of Texas; Lynn Woolsey of California; Karan English of Arizona; Ted Strickland of Ohio; Carlos A. Romero-Barcelo, the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico; and Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, who previously served on the full panel but not on the subcommittee.

The new Republican members are Howard P. "Buck'' McKeon of California and Dan Miller of Florida.

Democrats joining the Postsecondary Education and Training Subcommittee are Robert C. Scott of Virginia, Ron Klink of Pennsylvania, Ms. English, Mr. Strickland, Mr. Becerra, and Mr. Green. Republicans joining the subcommittee are Randy "Duke'' Cunningham of California, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, Mr. Miller, and Mr. McKeon.

The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee also picked up one new member last week, Harris Wofford, D-Pa.

A federal appeals court has upheld the Education Department's rule on the allocation of Chapter 1 aid for students in religious schools.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last month affirmed a federal district court's decision upholding the department's so-called "off the top'' rule. That rule requires that the extra costs of serving eligible Chapter 1 students in religious schools be considered an administrative expense and deducted off the top of a district's entire Chapter 1 allocation.

The extra expenses include the purchase or lease of mobile classrooms or neutral sites to deliver remedial services to these pupils. Such methods became popular after the U.S. Supreme Court's 1985 decision in Aguilar v. Felton that public school employees could not teach Chapter 1 classes on the grounds of a religious school.

The ruling in Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. Alexander is consistent with decisions by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Eighth Circuits.

The Chicago public schools argued that the rule resulted in an unconstitutional benefit to students in sectarian schools and the exclusion of public school students from the program.

Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., has asked the Education Department's inspector general and the General Accounting Office to investigate the hiring of a former department official by a for-profit trade-school chain.

Mr. Gordon said the hiring of Gerald Riso, formerly the department's deputy assistant secretary for student financial assistance, as president of Phillips Colleges is an example of the "revolving door of friends and influence.''

Mr. Gordon charged that Mr. Riso had lessened punishments assessed against Phillips, which operated schools with high student-loan default rates.

An Education Department employee who was refused leave to care for an adopted child may sue under the Rehabilitation Act, an appeals court has ruled.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a federal district judge's decision in McWright v. Alexander, which had dismissed the claim.

The woman, an employee of the office for civil rights, resigned after her superiors refused to grant her leave time when she was granted custody of a child.

She filed suit under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, claiming she was discriminated against based on her inability to bear children, since the agency regularly granted leave to new biological mothers.

The appeals court returned her suit to the federal district court in Chicago for a possible trial.

Schools can now use Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 funds to pay interest costs associated with buying equipment, such as computers.

The new rule, announced by the Education Department last month in a letter to chief state school officers, makes an exception to a governmentwide rule barring grantees from using federal funds to pay the interest on credit purchases.

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