Federal Federal File

Doing the Waive

By David J. Hoff — April 17, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Department of Education has talked openly about the waivers of federal requirements it has granted to states and school districts.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings made a high-profile 2005 speech, for instance, to announce pilot projects for growth models for accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act. She also readily promised leniency for states and districts affected by the hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Despite its openness with the public, the department forgot to formally notify Congress, according to a report this month from the Education Department’s inspector general’s office.

In a review of 197 waivers granted under NCLB from 2002 through 2006, the inspector general found that the department never reported them to Congress as required by the No Child Left Behind law. It also didn’t publish formal notification of the waivers in the Federal Register, which the law requires as well.

In the Education Department’s March 27 response to a draft of the report, a department official acknowledged the lack of notification but downplays the department’s inaction.

The NCLB law doesn’t set a deadline for notifying Congress of waivers or for noting them in the Federal Register, wrote Kerri L. Briggs, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. Since 2002, the department has given “very few substantive waivers,” Ms. Briggs wrote. More than half concerned administrative spending in programs for American Indians.

Ms. Briggs added that department officials did tell members of Congress when waivers were granted to their states or to school districts they represent. The department also is planning to send a formal report to Congress, she said.

In addition to the waivers for Indian programs, the department has allowed five states to use so-called growth models for accountability under the NCLB law. It also has permitted six districts to provide tutoring before offering school choice to students in low-performing schools, reversing the order called for under the law. In 2005 and 2006, it issued 18 waivers to states and districts affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In the April 5 audit report, Helen Lew, an assistant inspector general, recommended that the department send an annual report to Congress listing the waivers it has granted, and to “regularly” publish notices in the Federal Register about such waivers.

See Also

For more stories on this topic see our Federal news page.

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.
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
STEM Fusion: Empowering K-12 Education through Interdisciplinary Integration
Join our webinar to learn how integrating STEM with other subjects can revolutionize K-12 education & prepare students for the future.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
School & District Management Webinar How Pensions Work: Why It Matters for K-12 Education
Panelists explain the fundamentals of teacher pension finances — how they are paid for, what drives their costs, and their impact on K-12 education.

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

Federal Classroom Tech Outpaces Research. Why That's a Problem
Experts call for better alignment between research and the classroom in Capitol Hill discussions.
4 min read
People walk outside the U.S Capitol building in Washington, June 9, 2022.
People walk outside the U.S Capitol building in Washington, June 9, 2022. Experts called for investments in education research and development at a symposium at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on June 13.
Patrick Semansky/AP
Federal Opinion Federal Education Reform Has Largely Failed. Unfortunately, We Still Need It
Neither NCLB nor ESSA have lived up to their promise, but the problems calling for national action persist.
Jack Jennings
4 min read
Red, Blue, and Purple colors over a fine line etching of the Capitol building. Republicans and Democrats, Partisan Politicians.
Douglas Rissing/iStock
Federal A More Complete Picture of Immigration's Impact on U.S. Public Schools
House Republicans say a migrant influx has caused "chaos" in K-12 schools. The reality is more complicated.
10 min read
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Federal Explainer What Is Title IX? Schools, Sports, and Sex Discrimination
Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is undergoing changes. What it is, how it works, and how it's enforced.
2 min read
In this Nov. 21, 1979 file photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to get their support in the next election.
In this Nov. 21, 1979, photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington at an event where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to win their support in the next election.
Harvey Georges/AP