Education

News in Brief:A Washington’s Roundup

September 03, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

E.D. Releases Guidance About Charter Schools

If employees of charter schools or any outside management companies that run them serve on the schools’ boards of directors, they must avoid any “real or apparent conflict of interest” if the school receives money from the Department of Education’s charter school program, under new guidelines released late last month.

The guidelines are available from the U.S. Department of Education. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

If employees of charter schools or any outside management companies that run them serve on the schools’ boards of directors, they must avoid any “real or apparent conflict of interest” if the school receives money from the Department of Education’s charter school program, under new guidelines released late last month.

Prohibited conflicts of interest and changes wrought in the nine-year-old, $198.7 million grant program by the No Child Left Behind Act are among the new topics covered in the nonregulatory guidance.

The guidance also tackles such topics as what role churches and other religious organizations can play in charter schools; how to conduct admissions lotteries; and how much grant money states can keep for overhead.

Dean Kern, the program’s director, said the new conflict-of-interest section was prompted in part by concerns about employees of education management companies serving on the boards of charter schools with which the companies have contracts.

—Caroline Hendrie

Ex-Department Employee Sentenced in Theft Scheme

A former Department of Education employee has been sentenced to 41/2 years in prison for her role in a scheme to bilk the department of more than $1 million in computers and telecommunications equipment.

Elizabeth C. Mellen, a former telecommunications specialist in the department, pleaded guilty last year to charges of theft and conspiracy in connection with a scheme that involved six members of her family and others. She was sentenced Aug. 5 by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Ms. Mellen and others conspired with representatives of a telecommunications contractor at the department to order computers, telephones, digital cameras, and other goods at government expense for their personal use. (“Seven More Sign Guilty Pleas in Ed. Agency Fraud Case,” Feb. 6, 2002.)

Court documents said Ms. Mellen had employees of Bell Atlantic, now known as Verizon Communications Inc., perform work at her relatives’ homes, then submit bills for false overtime to the Education Department. Ms. Mellen’s lawyer, William Brennan, could not be reached for comment.

—Sean Cavanagh

Rights Office Issues Letter On Campus Free Speech

The Department of Education’s office for civil rights has issued a letter to college administrators stating that its anti-discrimination policies are not meant to restrict free speech on campus, but to shield students from acts that could be deemed offensive.

Gerald A. Reynolds, the assistant secretary for civil rights, issued the letter July 28 in response to requests for clarification on free-speech issues, department spokeswoman Susan Aspey said.

Mr. Reynolds wrote that while some campus officials have interpreted OCR anti-harassment policies as barring all offensive speech pertaining to race, sex, and disability, “OCR’s regulations are not intended to restrict the exercise of any expressive activities protected under the U.S. Constitution.”

Greg C. Lukianoff, a spokesman for the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, hailed the letter as “a new day” in helping to rid campuses of stringent anti-harassment policies that have resulted in “speech codes.”

—Sean Cavanagh


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
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
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

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 Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP