UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Washington, D.C. 20202-6132
March 18, 1996
MEMORANDUM TO CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS
SUBJECT: Use of Free and Reduced Price Lunch Data for Title I Purposes
As many of you are aware, we have been working with officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the use of free and reduced price lunch data for Title I purposes.
Section 108 of Public Law 103-448, the Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994, authorizes the release of student free and reduced school meal eligibility status for Federal and State education programs. Because of the sensitivity of this information and the intent to publish regulations implementing this section, USDA issued a memorandum several months ago stating that the use of such information for Federal and State education programs would not be permissible until such regulations were published. However, since that memorandum was issued, our Department has worked closely with USDA to explain the need for such information for the Title I program. As a result of our discussions, USDA issued the enclosed memorandum that authorizes the release of free and reduced school eligibility information for Title I purposes.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions on this matter.
Mary Jean LeTendre
Compensatory Education Programs
cc: State Title I Coordinators
SUBJECT: Cooperation with Education Officials - Title I
Section 108 of Public Law 103-448 authorizes the release of student free and reduced price school meal eligibility status for Federal and State education programs. Although we intend to promulgate regulations on the provision, we have not been able to publish the provision on a timely basis. Consequently, we are authorizing school officials, through this memorandum to cooperate with education officials collecting data for Title I purposes.
Under current policy, school food service officials may release aggregate information about the number of children eligible for free and reduced price meals. Additionally, we are now authorizing school food service officials to disclose the names of individual children who are eligible for free or reduced price meals, to officials collecting data for Title I allocation and evaluation purposes. While we are authorizing the release of this information, the final decision rests with local officials.
For allocation of funds under Title I, public schools are usually annually ranked according to the number of children eligible for free and reduced price school meals as an annual indicator of the socioeconomic status of the school's attendance area. While Title I funds are not dispersed to private schools, children from the attendance area who attend private schools may still be included in the total count of needy children living in the attendance area. Therefore, private schools that participate in the school nutrition programs may release the addresses, grade levels and eligibility status of children determined eligible for free and reduced price school meals to Title I officials. It should be noted that private schools would not need to release the names of free and reduced price eligible students, since addresses are sufficient to determine attendance areas.
While in some instances aggregate release of free and reduced price school meal information is sufficient, food service officials may be asked to provide the names and eligibility status of individual children for Title I evaluation purposes. Consequently, school food service officials may cooperate with education officials for evaluation of Title I services. The Department of Education has been advised of this policy in the attached letter to Mary Jean LeTendre, Director of Compensatory Education Programs for that Department.
Please provide your States with copies of this memorandum and attached letter. You may contact Charles Heise or Barbara Semper at (703) 305-2968 with any questions.
Alberta C. Frost
Child Nutrition Division