Compensatory Education:

Aguilar v. Felton Decision's Continuing Impact on Chapter 1 Program

HRD-89-131BR: Published: Sep 27, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO studied the effects of a 1985 Supreme Court decision that prohibited public school teachers from providing Chapter 1 compensatory education remedial services to students on private sectarian school premises, under the Chapter 1 program.

GAO found that: (1) 46 of 52 state education agencies reported that local school districts had spent or planned to spend about $105 million to provide Chapter 1 services, with 6 states accounting for $79.8 million; (2) to provide the remedial services and comply with the decision, school districts spent $31 million on mobile vans, $17 million on neutral sites, and $12 million on portable classrooms; (3) the $34 million school districts spent on computer-aided instruction did not fall within the statutory meaning of noninstructional goods and services covered by Chapter 1; (4) states' shares of the 1989 $19.8 million appropriation for Chapter 1 services were proportional to their shares of Chapter 1 private school students; (5) states based their allocation of funds to districts on program participation or spending; (6) the number of Chapter 1 private school students declined from 185,000 during the 1984-85 school year to 123,000 during the 1985-86 school year, although participation increased to 151,000 students for the 1988-89 school year; (7) factors increasing participation included Department of Education guidance on the permissible use of portable classrooms, mobile vans, and computer-aided instruction and greater parental and private school acceptance of computer-aided instruction; (8) factors hindering participation included parental resistance to busing, mobile vans' limited capacity, and districts' inability to justify costs of providing services to small numbers of students; and (9) districts indicated that they were generally satisfied with the new Chapter 1 service delivery methods.

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