Groups Publish Hatch Amendment Guidelines

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Following are excerpts from guidelines for school districts on the Hatch Amendment regulations, prepared by the Hatch Amendment Coalition. This group of 31 education associations has criticized the U.S. Department of Education's promulgation of the rules, which implement the 1978 Hatch Amendment, a law that requires parental consent for a number of federally funded experimental teaching methods and psychological tests.

Q. If a local educational agency receives a letter from a parent that requests prior parental consent before a child is involved in specific school activities, how should local school officials respond?

A. The groups that support the regulations are circulating a form letter which requests that school administrators obtain prior parental consent before a child is involved in a list of over 30 activities, including suicide prevention, drug abuse, and organic evolution programs. (See Education Week, Feb. 20, 1985.) ...

School personnel should develop a procedure on how to deal with the receipt of such letters. The coalition recommends that the school officials respond by explaining to the parent the scope and intent of the Hatch regulations and by advising that materials are available for review.

Q. If the local educational agency receives a complaint-resolution reporting form from the federal government, how should the school system respond?

A. If the complaint has not been ad-dressed at the local and at the state levels (if there is a state-level process), the lea should notify the government of this. If the complaint has proceeded through both levels, the lea has the option of completing the form. Although the Hatch Amendment Coalition recommended that the Education Department develop a form, the coalition was not consulted when the form was developed. It must be noted that the form is not printed on official Education Department stationery. The form should be accompanied on official letterhead. It is recommended that school officials contact the Education Department--202-472-5123--before completing any form.

Q. What is a state's authority and responsibility in relation to the Hatch Amendment rules?

A. Many states do not believe that they have the constitutional or the statutory authority or responsibility to become involved in the resolution of such complaints but will become involved in the assessment of such complaints. Other states do believe that they have the authority as well as the responsibility and may use the authority to support the decisions of lea's. States may opt to become involved in the reassessment of the complaint and in further negotiations between complainants and school systems.

Q. Will the role of the U.S. Department of Education be one of fact-finder, mediator, and/or enforcer when a complaint is received?

A. The department's role will depend on the facts in the case. Com-plaints will be resolved on a "case-by-case basis." According to a letter to the coalition from the department: "... the department's role will be that of fact-finder in all cases, mediator in some cases, and enforcer only in those cases where an alleged violator does not voluntarily comply with the statute and the regulations."

It is unclear whether the department has the authority to function in the aforementioned roles.

Q. If a school system receives any type of federal education funds, do all programs and activities within the school system fall under the purview of the Hatch Amendment regulations?

A. No, only the programs and activities which are supported by federal funds which flow through the U.S. Department of Education come under the purview of the Hatch Amendment regulations. ...

Programs that receive federal funds through the Department of Education and could be subject to the Hatch Amendment regulations include: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Handicapped Education, Bilingual Education, Impact Aid, Vocational Education, Adult Education.

Copies of the guidelines--which include a history of the development of the regulations, a text of the rules, and a letter from a department official explaining its position--are available for $10 each from the American Association of School Administrators, 1801 N. Moore St., Arlington, Va. For more information, call Claudia A. Mansfield, government-relations specialist with aasa, at (703) 528-0700.

Vol. 04, Issue 37

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