Education

News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

October 03, 2001 3 min read
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Release of Student Records OK
In Terrorism Probe, Deparment Says

The Department of Education is advising colleges that they may disclose confidential student records to federal law-enforcement authorities investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks without running afoul of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The Department of Education is advising colleges that they may disclose confidential student records to federal law-enforcement authorities investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks without running afoul of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

A spokeswoman said last week that the advice does not represent a policy change, but is tied to the law’s longtime exception for a “health or safety emergency.”

“Our general advice has been that the health-and-safety exception does apply in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks,” said Lindsey Kozberg, the chief spokeswoman for the department.

FBI agents reportedly have approached at least two colleges seeking information about students who might have links to the Sept. 11 attacks. Without the consent of adult students or the parents of minor students, the authorities normally would need a subpoena to gain access to student records outside of basic directory information.

On a related front, draft anti-terrorism legislation proposed by the Department of Justice would expand the authority of federal agents to collect individual education records without a subpoena if the data were needed to investigate or help prevent domestic or international terrorism.

—Mark Walsh

Student-Loan Payments Deferred
For Activated Guard, Reserves

To help those in the military who have been reassigned or activated in response to the recent terrorist attacks, the Department of Education has directed lenders and colleges to provide such people with relief from their student-loan obligations.

The move helps members of the National Guard and the armed forces reserves who have been called to active duty. The Education Department’s guidelines apply to student loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan, William D. Ford Loan, and Federal Perkins Loan programs. Lenders have been directed to automatically postpone the student-loan payments of borrowers during the borrowers’ active- duty service.

Borrowers with subsidized student loans will be eligible to have the federal government assume the interest payments on their loans while they are on military duty.

For military personnel called to active duty whose loans are not yet in repayment because they are currently students, or who have only recently left school, the department has directed lenders to hold their loans in their current deferment status.

—John Gehring

Music Dean Selected
To Head Arts Endowment

President Bush has selected Michael P. Hammond to become the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Hammond, 69, has been the dean of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston since 1986. A composer and conductor with particular interest in Asian, Western Medieval, and Renaissance music, he also served as the founding rector of the European Mozart Academy in Prague from 1992 to 1995.

If his nomination is approved by the Senate, Mr. Hammond will replace Bill Ivey, a Clinton administration appointee who planned to step down on Sept. 30.

The agency is directed by Congress to support education in the arts by helping schools and teachers develop curricula tied to academic standards for the subject area and by engaging artists and presenting works of art.

—Joetta L. Sack

Commission Will Plan Celebration
For Brown v. Board of Education‘s 50th

President Bush has signed legislation that calls for the creation of a special commission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

The commission will advise the Department of Education on activities to help celebrate the historic decision, which declared racial segregation in public schooling unconstitutional.

Among the groups Mr. Bush identified for participation were the Brown Foundation for Education Equity in Topeka, Kan., and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is based in New York City.

The president did not outline a schedule for naming the members of the 11-member commission, but said he would seek recommendations from congressional leaders.

—Robert C. Johnston

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