Student Eligibility and Other Problems in Federally Funded and Operated Schools in Puerto Rico

HRD-78-173: Published: Jan 5, 1979. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1979.

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Action may be required to resolve student eligibility and other problems in federally funded and operated schools in Puerto Rico. Only those children whose parents had been temporarily transferred from the U.S. to Puerto Rico were eligible to attend the Antilles Consolidated School System (ACSS). ACSS is operated by the Navy, with maintenance and operating funds provided by the Office of Education (OE). However, OE permitted the children of locally hired parents to attend ACSS if the parents were subject to transfer to an area where English was the principal language of instruction in the schools. In addition, OE has not required evidence that the parents are subject to transfer or that children of parents in similar employment situations are treated consistently. The Navy must provide education in Puerto Rico comparable to that provided in the District of Columbia public schools. However, the information which the Navy submitted for comparison did not provide a basis for making a determination.

Present OE regulations allow agencies to be inconsistent in certifying which employees are subject to transfer, resulting in inconsistent treatment of chilren in similar employment situations. OE should insure that eligibility criteria are consistently applied. Planned transfer dates and actual transfer data are needed to determine whether parents are subject by policy and practice to transfer. OE also needs to determine whether permitting off-base children to attend ACSS on a tuition basis is advantageous to the government. If found to be advantageous, then OE should determine if legislation is required to allow these students to remain. Alleviation of concerns among parents and teachers at ACSS regarding accounting for funds and makeup of the school board and advisory council is helped by recent legislation. OE still needs to ensure that education at ACSS and in the District of Columbia is comparable.

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