Bureau of Indian Affairs Plans To Consolidate Off-Reservation Indian Boarding Schools

RCED-83-204: Published: Sep 12, 1983. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the information which the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) considered in its decision to consolidate its system of off-reservation Indian boarding schools (ORBS).

BIA enrollment regulations require prospective ORBS students to meet at least one educational or social admission criterion. Educational criteria include the overcrowding or inadequacy of public schools near the student's home. Social criteria include student rejection or neglect and the lack of adequate parental supervision. GAO found that educational criteria were cited as the primary reason for student admission at five schools and social criteria the primary reason at four schools. Eight of the schools offered at least three major special education and social programs during the 1982-1983 school year, such as remedial learning, education for the handicapped, and intensive residential guidance. Nine of the ten schools also offered additional programs, such as drug and alcohol abuse education, vocational training, and single parent training. The schools were rated in generally good physical condition, with only one school rated in poor physical condition. Between 1978 and 1983, the staffing levels have decreased at eight schools and increased at two schools, and student enrollment declined at six schools and increased at four schools. GAO found that school officials were generally aware of size criteria for classrooms, but were unaware of space criteria for dormitories. In June 1982, BIA anticipated closing five schools, and these schools were directed to prepare individual student placement plans. However, GAO found that many students will attend non-BIA schools, the plans were often incomplete and inaccurate, and some students will attend a nonaccredited school.

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