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The Education Department's office for civil rights and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission have reached an agreement designed to increase information sharing between the agencies and to decrease the duplication of their activities.

Harry M. Singleton, the assistant secretary for civil rights, was to announce the agreement at a press conference in Philadelphia on Jan. 24, according to ocr and state officials.

The civil-rights office indicated that it would "increase the involvement of states in civil-rights compliance activities" when it published its proposed operating plan for the fiscal year 1983 in October.

The plan, published in its final form in the Jan. 14 edition of the Federal Register, said that ocr would achieve that goal, in part, by designing its technical-assistance training program "to increase state and local education agencies' capacity to undertake civil-rights activities."

Critics of the Reagan Administration's civil-rights policies have alleged that such an effort is designed to weaken the federal government's role in protecting the rights of minorities.

East Baton Rouge Shuffle

The Justice Department allegedly has assigned two of its lawyers to a job that they would rather not have--arguing the government's position against mandatory student busing in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.

Although the department says that the lawyers "volunteered" for the assignment, The New York Times reported last week that William Bradford Reynolds, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, came close to threatening them with dismissal because of their reluctance to accept the assignment.

During the Carter Administration, the federal government adopted a pro-busing stance in the parish's school-desegregation case. The Reagan Administration, however, reversed that position, and late last month asked the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana to accept a totally voluntary desegregation plan for the district.

The departmental lawyer who had argued in favor of busing during the Carter Administration asked to be taken off the case following the Reagan Administration's switch in position, according to the newspaper. Mr. Reynolds then sought volunteer substitutes for him, and when none stepped forward, the two reluctant lawyers were pressed into service.

Not a Vintage Year

The executive director of the naacp said recently that the year 1982 was "the worst for the traditional victims of racial oppression in recent memory." Much of the blame for that, he said, lies with the Reagan Administration.

"We used to believe that Woodrow Wilson was bad" because "he led in bringing segregation into federal agencies," said Benjamin L. Hooks in his annual report to the association.

But given the current Administration's stance on social issues such as school desegregation, tax exemptions for private schools that practice racial discrimination, and affirmative-action hiring programs, "we must ask Mr. Reagan, 'Where is your heart? Where is your sense of social responsibility?"' he added.

Mr. Hooks also said that "it seems that we have some people in high office we should not have there, and it is the obligation of the naacp to get them out." Among them: Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, for his privately stated reluctance to enforce laws that run counter to his own philosophy.

Job-Training Rules

The Department of Labor last week published proposed regulations for the recently created Job Training Partnership Act program.

In issuing the rules on Jan. 18, Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan said that "the act is sufficiently clear and, therefore, requires only limited and selective interpretation via regulations."

Eight percent of a special governor's training fund created by the new law, which replaces the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, is earmarked for state and local education agencies. In addition, the law requires representation by education officials on local private-industry councils (pics) created under the program.

The department has set a Feb. 17 deadline for filing comments on the proposed rules.

Social Security Bailout

State and local governments--including school districts--would be prevented from withdrawing from the financially troubled Social Security system under the rescue plan agreed to by President Reagan's National Commission on Social Security Reform.

The bipartisan, 15-member panel also agreed to bring all nonprofit organizations, including almost all private schools, into the system by 1984.

The commission was created by the President last year to develop recommendations aimed at preventing the system's financial collapse. It is currently estimated that the system will need almost $200 billion by the end of the century if it is to remain solvent.

Congress is expected to act on the panel's recommendations during its current legislative session.--tm

Vol. 02, Issue 18

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