Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006
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V. THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA EQUAL ACCESS ACT
On March 24, 2006, OCR published final regulations implementing the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act (the Boy Scouts Act ) in the Federal Register. The Boy Scouts Act, part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, applies to any public elementary school, public secondary school, LEA or SEA that has a designated open forum or limited public forum and that receives funds made available through ED. Under the Boy Scouts Act, these entities may not 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) that wishes to conduct a meeting within the covered entity’s designated forum. The law gives ED, through OCR, responsibility for ensuring that the Boy Scouts and other covered youth groups have equal access to public school facilities.
On Oct. 19, 2004, the secretary of education published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), requesting public comment on proposed regulations for the Boy Scouts Act. The 45-day period for public comment closed on Dec. 3, 2004. OCR received over 3,000 comments. After extensive review by DOJ and OMB of ED’s draft of the final regulations based on its review of the comments, ED issued the final Boy Scouts Act regulations on March 24, 2006.
One of the Boy Scouts Act’s regulatory provisions, at 34 CFR §108.8, concerns assurances of compliance with the act. An applicant for funds made available through ED to which the Boy Scouts Act applies must submit an assurance that the applicant will comply with the act and its regulations. In order to collect these assurances of compliance with the Boy Scouts Act, OCR amended the form OCR uses to collect assurances of compliance with other laws enforced by OCR. That form (now called “Assurance of Compliance—Civil Rights Certificate”) includes language by which the applicant assures that it will comply with Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, the Age Discrimination Act, and the Boy Scouts Act, as well as all regulations, guidelines and standards adopted under these statutes. In FY 2006, OCR secured OMB approval to collect the revised Assurance of Compliance—Civil Rights Certificate. On July 21, 2006, OCR issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to more than 17,000 SEAs and LEAs providing information about the Boy Scouts Act and the requirement to provide new signed assurances of compliance with all the civil rights laws, regulations, guidelines and standards as a condition of continued receipt of funding from ED. OCR began collecting and documenting the receipt of newly signed assurances of compliance from these 17,000 recipients in August 2006, and will take action to follow-up with recipients that do not complete and return them.
A. Complaint Resolution
In FY 2006, OCR received seven complaints containing allegations of violations of the Boy Scouts Act. In FY 2006, OCR resolved eight complaints that contained allegations involving the Boy Scouts Act. Several of the Boy Scouts Act complaints received prior to issuance of the regulations did not present factual situations covered by the act. OCR expects that its issuance of the Boy Scouts Act regulations in March 2006 will assist the public in better understanding the provisions of the Boy Scouts Act.