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Tug of war

House Republicans are continuing their tug of war with the Department of Education over special education dollars and prison inmates.

Rep. Frank Riggs

Last month, a House subcommittee again passed a measure that would allow states to determine whether they will offer special education services to some inmates.

Led by Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., the House last year approved a related amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that would allow states to forfeit a small portion of their federal special education funding if they chose not to provide such services to otherwise eligible prisoners.

This year, however, in its proposed regulations for the amended IDEA, the Education Department said it could impose "additional sanctions" against states if they refused to offer the services to prisoners.

But Mr. Riggs was having none of that. He responded by rewriting last year's IDEA amendment language to clarify that the only sanction the department could impose on a state that refused to offer such services was to strip away the small amount of IDEA funds the state received for the prisoners.

His new bill, HR 3254, passed the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families, which he chairs, by a voice vote on May 21. A nonbinding resolution to increase federal IDEA funding passed the same day.

Mr. Riggs first became involved in the issue when officials in his home state discovered that they would be ineligible for federal IDEA dollars if they refused to provide special education to prisoners ages 18 to 21. ("Issue of Spec. Ed. in Prisons Pits Calif., ED," April 30, 1997.)

New research chief

After a seven-month wait, Cyril Kent McGuire has taken over as the Department of Education's research chief.

The Senate confirmed Mr. McGuire to head the department's office of educational research and improvement on May 22. President Clinton nominated the former education program officer for the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts to the post last October.

The department now has a full slate of assistant secretaries. But Marshall S. Smith has been the acting deputy secretary of education for almost two years.


Vol. 17, Issue 38, Page 5

Published in Print: June 3, 1998, as Federal File

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