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Student-Records Rules Targeted for Changes

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The Department of Education has proposed amending federal regulations governing student records.

The proposal, which was published in the March 14 issue of the Federal Register, would eliminate a requirement that school districts adopt a formal student-records policy, in accordance with changes made to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in 1994. But the proposed rules would require districts to notify parents not only of their right of access to their children's records, but also of how to obtain them.

Districts would have three years to implement the new requirement, and the department expects to provide guidance on the matter once final regulations are issued.

The regulations also clarify that districts must make a "reasonable effort" to notify parents before releasing student records in court and that districts can share student disciplinary records among schools if school officials have a "legitimate educational interest in the behavior of the student."

Comments are due May 13. They should be addressed to LeRoy Rooker, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave. S.W., Room 1366, Washington, D.C., 20202-4605. Comments can also be sent via the Internet to FERPA_Comments@ed.gov.

Service Agency Faulted

Members of a House oversight panel last week called on the Corporation for National Service, which runs AmeriCorps, to get its financial house in order, citing an audit that criticized the corporation's bookkeeping.

The audit, released earlier this month, faulted the corporation for what it said was a lack of data integrity, unreliable financial statements, and insufficient budgetary controls. The audit, done under contract by the accounting firms Arthur Andersen & Co., and Williams, Adley & Co. covered the 1994 fiscal year, the first to begin after the corporation was established in 1993.

"If this were a publicly traded business, its value would plummet ... no new capital would be provided until its books were in order," Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee's oversight subcommittee, said at a March 19 hearing.

Harris Wofford, the chief executive officer of the corporation, testified that he has accepted 75 of the audit's recommendations, and has already implemented 20 of them.

Mr. Wofford also pointed out that the audit covered nine programs that were brought under the corporation's umbrella in 1993, some of which "did not have the tough private-sector standards of the corporation."

"This study provides a blueprint that we are following to ensure that our financial-management systems do meet private-sector challenges," he said.

The Senate's version of a pending omnibus spending bill for fiscal 1996 would earmark some of the $15 million increase it offers the corporation for modernizing its financial systems.

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