WASHINGTON – Today, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statement after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that found severe deficiencies in the Department of Education’s enforcement of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s (ESEA) equitable services provision that is designed to ensure certain private school students and teachers have access to critical learning supports:
“Today’s GAO report on equitable services carries the stench of bureaucratic rot on every page. Under the ESEA, school districts that receive federal funds must provide equitable services to private schools, and states must appoint an ombuds to enforce this requirement. Unfortunately, these requirements are being implemented poorly.
“This report finds that the Department of Education ‘provides little information on how to help ensure ombuds have capacity to do their jobs or examples of ways to mitigate impartiality concerns.’ If this is not a concerning revelation, I don’t know what is. For private schools to receive all the support they need, ombuds must be equipped to know the law and adjudicate it fairly, and the Department of Education should do much better at ensuring ombuds have the capacity to do so.
“What’s more, private schools face enormous amounts of red tape when simply obtaining the services they need. To add insult to injury, the GAO report found that ‘administrative burden is the most common reason that private school leaders may choose not to participate in equitable services.’ This finding serves as a wakeup call to the Department of Education and state education agencies around the nation to eliminate bureaucratic bloat and burdensome red tape.
“The nearly five million students in private education today deserve better.”