Education

Federal File

February 11, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Reporting Student Prayer

State officials in Michigan believe they’ve come up with a relatively painless way to comply with a federal reporting requirement on student prayer in schools.

To qualify for funding under the 2-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, school districts must certify in writing that they are not infringing students’ rights to pray in school. Then the states each have to supply the federal Department of Education with a certification that their districts are in compliance by Nov. 1 of each year.

For the first year of the mandate, the Michigan education department had local officials fill out the needed paperwork and send it in to the state. But this go-round, districts took the pledge online through a new feature of the state’s Internet-based grants- management system. School districts apply for federal dollars by tapping in to the Michigan Electronic Grants System, or MEGS.

Thanks to the new feature, district officials can simply click on a link from their own dedicated Web pages on the system to certify they are in compliance with the federal Department of Education’s guidelines on constitutionally protected prayer in public schools. (“Critics Say Agency ‘Pushing the Envelope’ With School Prayer Guide,” Feb. 19, 2003.)

If a district hasn’t submitted its certification, the Michigan system blocks it from applying for grants.

“We had 100 percent participation,” Mary Ann Chartrand, the Michigan department’s supervisor for grants administration, said of last year’s certification process. One reason, she said, was that state officials could easily keep track online of which districts hadn’t filed and then remind them to do so.

Among those hoping that Michigan’s approach will catch on is Scott Jenkins, the director of “e- government solutions” for Agate Software Inc. the Lansing, Mich.-based company that helped the state devise the school-prayer reporting process.

Mr. Jenkins, who worked in the federal Education Department from April 2002 until last August, said he recalls hearing complaints from state schools chiefs that complying with the prayer mandate would be cumbersome and costly. In his view, Michigan’s new system, which cost $5,000, belies that prediction.

“Things that look like a paper shuffle at the state level can be done fairly easily with Web-based technology,” he said.

—Caroline Hendrie

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 13, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 21, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read