B-123475, AUG. 31, 1955

B-123475: Aug 31, 1955

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MCATAMNEY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 2. WHILE YOU WERE ON DUTY WITH THE UNITED STATES ARMY MISSION TO COLOMBIA. YOU SAY THAT YOUR REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT IS BASED ON THE FACT THAT THE SCHOOL GRADE SYSTEM IN COLOMBIA ENCOMPASSES ONE YEAR OF KINDERGARTEN. WHICH IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE FIRST GRADE IN THE UNITED STATES. THAT YOUR DAUGHTER'S ATTENDANCE AT KINDERGARTEN WAS REQUIRED SINCE. IN THAT CONNECTION THERE WAS ATTACHED A CERTIFICATION OF THE PRINCIPAL OF THE COLEGIO NUEVA GRANADA TO THE EFFECT THAT UNDER THE SCHOOL GRADE SYSTEM IN COLOMBIA. ONE YEAR OF KINDERGARTEN IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE FIRST GRADE IN THE UNITED STATES. YOU INDICATE THAT THE FEES WERE PAID BY YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT ADVISED AND WERE NOT AWARE THAT THE KINDERGARTEN OF THE COLOMBIAN SCHOOLS WAS ONE OF THE GRADES FOR WHICH SCHOOLING WAS AVAILABLE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE AND SAY THAT YOU SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED THROUGH FAILURE OF RESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS TO PROPERLY ADVISE YOU OF YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO TUITION-PAID SCHOOLING FOR THE PERIOD IN QUESTION.

B-123475, AUG. 31, 1955

TO MASTER SERGEANT JAMES W. MCATAMNEY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 2, 1955, REQUESTING REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT DATED JANUARY 4, 1955, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF $220 PAID TO THE COLEGIO NUEVA GRANDA AT BOGOTA, COLOMBIA, AS MATRICULATION AND TUITION FEES FOR YOUR DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH LOUISE MCATAMNEY, DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1953 TO JUNE 1954, WHILE YOU WERE ON DUTY WITH THE UNITED STATES ARMY MISSION TO COLOMBIA.

YOU SAY THAT YOUR REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT IS BASED ON THE FACT THAT THE SCHOOL GRADE SYSTEM IN COLOMBIA ENCOMPASSES ONE YEAR OF KINDERGARTEN, WHICH IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE FIRST GRADE IN THE UNITED STATES, AND ELEVEN, INSTEAD OF TWELVE, GRADES OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLING, EQUAL TO GRAMMAR AND HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES. YOU SAY, FURTHER, THAT YOUR DAUGHTER'S ATTENDANCE AT KINDERGARTEN WAS REQUIRED SINCE, UNDER COLOMBIAN LAW, SHE COULD NOT ENTER THE FIRST GRADE WITHOUT HAVING COMPLETED AND RECEIVED CREDIT FOR ATTENDANCE AT KINDERGARTEN. IN THAT CONNECTION THERE WAS ATTACHED A CERTIFICATION OF THE PRINCIPAL OF THE COLEGIO NUEVA GRANADA TO THE EFFECT THAT UNDER THE SCHOOL GRADE SYSTEM IN COLOMBIA, ONE YEAR OF KINDERGARTEN IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE FIRST GRADE IN THE UNITED STATES. YOU INDICATE THAT THE FEES WERE PAID BY YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT ADVISED AND WERE NOT AWARE THAT THE KINDERGARTEN OF THE COLOMBIAN SCHOOLS WAS ONE OF THE GRADES FOR WHICH SCHOOLING WAS AVAILABLE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE AND SAY THAT YOU SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED THROUGH FAILURE OF RESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS TO PROPERLY ADVISE YOU OF YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO TUITION-PAID SCHOOLING FOR THE PERIOD IN QUESTION.

AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE COST OF EDUCATION OF DEPENDENTS OF MILITARY PERSONNEL FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1954 IS CONTAINED IN SECTION 614 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATION ACT, 1954, 67 STAT. 351, IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR SHALL BE AVAILABLE, (A) EXCEPT AS AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 30, 1950 (20 U.S.C. 236-244), FOR PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLING FOR DEPENDENTS OF MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE RESIDING ON MILITARY OR NAVAL INSTALLATIONS OR STATIONED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AS AUTHORIZED FOR THE NAVY BY SECTION 13 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946 (5 U.S.C. 421D) IN AMOUNTS NOT EXCEEDING AN AVERAGE OF $225 PER STUDENT, WHEN THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED FINDS THAT SCHOOLS, IF ANY, AVAILABLE IN THE LOCALITY, ARE UNABLE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATELY FOR THE EDUCATION OF SUCH DEPENDENTS; * * *"

SECTION 13 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, 60 STAT. 854, PROVIDES:

"THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY MAY, OUT OF FUNDS SPECIFICALLY APPROPRIATED FOR THAT PURPOSE, CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUPPORT OF SCHOOLS IN LOCALITIES WHERE NAVAL ACTIVITIES ARE LOCATED IF HE FINDS THAT THE SCHOOLS, IF ANY, AVAILABLE IN THE LOCALITY ARE NOT ADEQUATE FOR THE WELFARE OF DEPENDENTS OF PERSONNEL OF THE NAVAL ESTABLISHMENT STATIONED AT THE ACTIVITY, AND MAY PROVIDE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF SUCH DEPENDENTS BETWEEN THE SCHOOLS AND THE ACTIVITIES WHEN SUCH SCHOOLS ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE TO SUCH DEPENDENTS BY REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION.'

THESE STATUTORY PROVISIONS AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY CONCERNED TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUPPORT OF SCHOOLS IN ANY LOCALITY WHERE A MILITARY OR NAVAL ACTIVITY IS SITUATED IF HE FINDS THAT THE SCHOOLS AVAILABLE IN THE LOCALITY ARE INADEQUATE FOR THE WELFARE OF THE DEPENDENTS OF THE SERVICE PERSONNEL STATIONED AT THAT ACTIVITY. THE STATUTES CLEARLY CONTEMPLATE THAT ANY NECESSARY AGREEMENTS OR ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE SCHOOLS WILL BE MADE BY APPROPRIATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS AFTER A PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION HAS BEEN MADE THAT EXISTING FACILITIES ARE NOT ADEQUATE. UNDER THE STATUTES, A PARENT HAS NO AUTHORITY BY PRIVATE AGREEMENT TO OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY HIS CHILD'S TUITION AND A LEGAL RIGHT TO REIMBURSEMENT CANNOT BE CREATED BY SUBSEQUENT ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE PRIVATE TRANSACTION. 33 COMP. GEN. 399. NOTHING IS CONTAINED IN SPECIAL REGULATIONS NO. 350-950-1 OR ARMY REGULATIONS NO. 350-950, BOTH DATED NOVEMBER 28, 1952, WHICH AUTHORIZES OR APPEARS TO CONTEMPLATE AUTHORIZING SUCH PRIVATE AGREEMENTS. CONSEQUENTLY, THERE IS NO PROPER BASIS FOR REIMBURSING YOU FOR THE FUNDS PAID TO THE SCHOOL IN BOGOTA FOR YOUR DAUGHTER'S EDUCATION. THE FACT THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE BEEN INFORMED OF YOUR RIGHTS IN THE MATTER DOES NOT WARRANT PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM WHEN THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR SUCH PAYMENT.