UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY
March 25, 2002
On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Part of this new law is the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act (Boy Scouts Act), which applies to public elementary and secondary schools, local educational agencies (LEAs), and State educational agencies (SEAs) that receive funds made available through the Department of Education. Under the Boy Scouts Act, which became effective on January 8, 2002, no such public school, LEA or SEA that provides an opportunity for one or more outside youth or community groups to meet on school premises or in school facilities before or after school hours shall deny equal access or a fair opportunity to meet to, or discriminate against, any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, or any other youth group listed in title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society. The law does not require any public school or agency to sponsor such a group.
The Boy Scouts Act directs the Secretary of Education,through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), to effectuate this law by issuing and enforcing rules or orders with respect to public elementary and secondary schools, LEAs, and SEAs that receive funds made available through the Department of Education. If a public school or agency does not comply with the requirements of the Boy Scouts Act, it would be subject to enforcement action by the Department.
The Department of Education will publish in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to proceed with rulemaking, in which we will request comments from interested parties regarding the Boys Scouts Act. I invite you to participate in this process. Please note that OCR is currently accepting complaints alleging violations of the Boy Scouts Act, and will continue to accept and process these consistent with the Boy Scouts Act during the rulemaking period.
If you have questions about the enforcement of the Boy Scouts Act, please contact the OCR Enforcement Office for your State, as described in the enclosed list of OCR Enforcement Offices. If you have questions about the Notice of Intent, please direct your questions, in writing, to Ms. Jeanette J. Lim, Director of the Program Legal Group in OCR, at 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., room 5036 MES, Washington, D.C. 20202.
For those of you who are school district superintendents, I would appreciate your sharing the information in this letter with each of your principals. For your convenience, enclosed please find a copy of the Boy Scouts Act, and a copy of that part of title 36 of the United States Code that lists patriotic and national organizations.
I look forward to working with you to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation.
C. Todd Jones
Delegated the Authority of
for Civil Rights
Enclosures, as stated