[Federal Register: July 8, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 130)]
[Page 45103-45104]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Intent to Compromise Claim Against the Commonwealth of Puerto 
Rico Department of Education

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of intent to compromise claim with request for comments.


SUMMARY: The United States Department of Education (Department) intends 
to compromise a claim against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico 
Department of Education (PRDE) now pending before the Office of 
Administrative Law Judges (OALJ), Docket No. 97-52-R. Before 
compromising a claim, the Department must publish its intent to do so 
in the Federal Register and provide the public an opportunity to 
comment on that action (20 U.S.C. 1234a(j)).

DATES: We must receive your comments on the proposed action on or 
before August 19, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Kay Rigling, Esq., Office of 
the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, 
SW., Room 6E312, Washington, DC 20202-2110.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kay Rigling, Esq., Telephone 202-401-
8292. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 


Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding this proposed action. 
During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments in room 6E312, FB-6, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, 
between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through 
Friday of each week except Federal holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing Comments

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 

[[Page 45104]]


    The claim in question arose when the Department's Assistant 
Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education (Assistant Secretary) 
issued a program determination letter (PDL) on March 26, 1997. The PDL 
demanded a refund of $1,846,718 of funds provided to the PRDE for 
school years 1991-92 and 1992-93 under Chapter 1 of Title I of the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 2701 et seq. 
(1988)). Specifically, the Assistant Secretary found that the PRDE had 
used Chapter 1 funds to assess the educational needs of all public and 
private school children in violation of statutory and regulatory 
requirements that permitted the use of those funds only for programs 
designed to meet the special educational needs of low-achieving 
children. Accordingly, the Assistant Secretary disallowed the percent 
of the total assessment contract costs for 1991-92 and 1992-93 
attributable to non-Chapter 1 students.
    The PRDE filed a timely appeal with the OALJ. In response to a 
motion for partial summary judgment filed by the PRDE, the OALJ held 
that $1,017,440 of the Assistant Secretary's claim was barred from 
recovery by the statute of limitations in 20 U.S.C. 1234a(k). As a 
result, $829,278, representing costs incurred in school year 1992-93, 
remains at issue. The Administrative Law Judge assigned to the appeal 
granted the parties' joint motion to stay proceedings pending 
settlement negotiations.
    During settlement discussions, the PRDE submitted substantial 
documentation to demonstrate that additional assessment costs were 
allowable Chapter 1 costs. For example, the PRDE demonstrated that 
certain fixed costs for in-service workshops and the preparation of 
required reports were necessary to meet Chapter 1 requirements, 
irrespective of the number of students assessed. Moreover, the PRDE 
demonstrated that it had properly assessed additional students no 
longer receiving Chapter 1 services in order to meet certain Chapter 1 
requirements. After conducting a thorough review of this documentation, 
the Assistant Secretary has decided to accept the PRDE's documentation 
and withdraw $414,733 from the remaining claim, thereby reducing the 
claim to $414,545.
    The Department proposes to compromise this remaining claim to 
$214,545. Based on litigation risks and costs of proceeding through the 
administrative and, possibly, court process for this appeal, the 
Department has determined that it would not be practical or in the 
public interest to continue this proceeding. In addition, in light of 
subsequent changes in the Chapter 1/Title I assessment requirements 
that permit testing all students, there is little or no likelihood of a 
recurrence of this problem. As a result, under the authority in 20 
U.S.C. 1234a(j), the Department has determined that compromise of this 
claim for $214,545 is appropriate.
    The public is invited to comment on the Department's intent to 
compromise this claim. Additional information may be obtained by 
calling or writing to Kay Rigling, Esq. at the telephone number and 
address listed at the beginning of this notice.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
    To use PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC, area at 202-512-1530.
    You may also view this document in text or PDF at the following 
site: http://www.ed.gov.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1234a(j).

    Dated: July 2, 2002.
Jack Martin,
Chief Financial Officer.
[FR Doc. 02-16958 Filed 7-5-02; 8:45 am]