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CREW Sues Dept. of Ed and Sec. Spellings Over Refusal to Provide Reading First Info--As Required by Law

NOTE: You can read the complaint at the url below.

By Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Washington, DC – This week Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings based on DOE's failure to release certain records required by law to be made public. Those records include the activities of advisory panels created under the Reading First Initiative, which was set up by the No Child Left Behind Act.

CREW's complaint alleges that DOE failed to comply with any of the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires agencies using panels such as those implemented by the Reading First Initiative to conduct open meetings, make records of those meetings publicly available, and ensure that any recommendation of the panels is the result of a fairly balanced panel.

The Reading First Initiative is described on DOE's website as a "program [that] focuses on putting proven methods of early reading instruction in classrooms. Through Reading First, states and districts receive support to apply scientifically based reading research—and the proven instructional and assessment tools consistent with this research—to ensure that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade."

The panels set up under the Reading First Initiative make recommendations to the Secretary about which states should receive federal funds under the program.

In a report issued in September 2006, DOE's Inspector General found that the Reading First Initiative was plagued by conflicts of interest, possible corruption, and numerous violations of law and General Accounting Office (GAO) standards. As a result, Secretary Spellings vowed to correct the mistakes that were made prior to her tenure.

Despite her promise, Secretary Spellings refused to respond to CREW's letter sent on November 6, 2006 requesting the records of the panels, and apparently has not taken any steps to ensure that the Reading First Initiative complies with the law.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said, "Secretary Spellings has decided to flout the law and continue to cover up the egregious violations made by officials at the Department of Education. We urge the Secretary to make good on her promise to make things right at her agency by releasing the Reading First records immediately."

The complaint and supporting documents, as well as CREW's November 6, 2006 letter to Sec. Spellings, are available on CREW's website

For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2006
Naomi Seligman Steiner - 202.408.5565 / press@citizensforethics.org

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.

For more information, please visit http://www.citizensforethics.org or contact Naomi Seligman Steiner at 202.408.5565/press@citizensforethics.org.

— Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Press Release


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