News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Denver Schools, OCR Hit Stalemate

After months of disagreement between federal officials and the Denver school district over how best to serve students in the district whose native language is not English, federal civil rights officials last week, in an unusual move, turned the issue over to the Department of Justice.

Generally, when the Department of Education's office for civil rights concludes that a district has violated federal rules, the district and the agency negotiate a plan to remedy the problem. Negotiations between the Denver district and the federal government broke off last month when the two sides could not agree on such a plan.

Federal officials maintain that the district's proposals are inadequate and do not guarantee that limited-English-proficient students will not be placed in mainstream, English classrooms before they are ready. Denver officials say the agency is pressuring them to provide bilingual education.

In July, the federal agency concluded that the district had violated federal civil rights law by discriminating against students on the basis of their limited English proficiency by not providing adequate services. Some 13,000 of Denver's 66,000 students are considered LEP. The Justice Department is reviewing the case to see whether it will take the matter to court. ("Federal Officials Take Denver To Task Over Bilingual Ed. Program," Sept. 3, 1997.)

HHS Awards Child-Care Contract

The Finance Project, a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving the way children's services are financed, has been awarded a $515,000 contract from the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage child-care partnerships between states and the private sector.

The goal is to improve and expand high-quality child care throughout the country, particularly for families on welfare. The Finance Project, located in Washington, will seek to build on innovative programs already in place. The group also plans to publish a quarterly bulletin and schedule a national conference for next summer.

Technical assistance for the project will come from the National Governors' Association, also based in Washington, and from the Families and Work Institute in New York City.

ED Issues Preschool Information

The Department of Education has released two new resources: its annual "Directory of Early Childhood Programs" and an overview of Section 619 of the nation's main special education law, which provides funding for special education preschool programs.

The documents review activities under the programs, which are overseen by the department's office of special education programs. But recent changes made under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act reauthorization will not be included until next year's editions.

The "Directory of Early Childhood Programs" is $25, and the Section 619 Profile is $6, including postage and handling. For more information, call or write National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System, 500 NationsBank Plaza, 137 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, (919) 962-2001; Web site:

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