WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Education today began accepting public comments to consider prior to proposing regulations that will enforce a provision in the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act (H.R. 1) prohibiting federally-funded elementary and secondary schools from denying Boy Scouts organizations equal access to school campuses. House Republicans praised Secretary Rod Paige for ensuring the Department follows through with enforcement of the new law.
â€œThis common-sense provision passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I commend Secretary Paige for following through with plans to ensure that it is enforced,â€ said House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH).
Under a provision authored by Rep. Van Hilleary (R-TN) that was included in the No Child Left Behind Act, Boy Scouts groups cannot be denied the right to conduct a meeting on the campus of any public school that accepts federal education funds and permits other outside youth or community groups to meet on campus. The No Child Left Behind Act does not require any school or school district to sponsor any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.
Rep. Hilleary led House efforts to ensure the inclusion of the provision in the No Child Left Behind legislation, offering an amendment to H.R. 1 on the House floor that was adopted on voice vote with no recorded opposition.
â€œThis amendment effectively ensures that schools wonâ€™t be able to discriminate against the Scouts or force them to go to court to have their rights upheld,â€ Hilleary said last year when the amendment passed the House.
â€œIf a school gives groups open access to its facilities, it must allow equal access to the Boy Scouts,â€ said Hilleary. â€œDenying the Boy Scouts equal access to schools cuts against court precedent, the Bill of Rights and common sense.â€
Public comments can be mailed to the Department or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments should be addressed to Gerald A. Reynolds, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 5000 MES, Washington, DC 20202-1100.