Federal influence over state and local government : the case of nondiscrimination in education

by Paul T. Hill, Ellen L. Marks

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This report identifies and compares the methods used by two agencies in the U.S. Department of Education--the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education (OSE)--to effect state and local compliance with civil rights statutes and special education law. Based on personal interviews with federal, state, and local officials, the report reviews the agencies' operations; policies, procedures, and actual conduct for dealing with states and localities; and effects on state and local educational agencies. Two models of federal influence are derived: one is enforcement, primarily used by OCR, that levies sanctions against alleged or actual violators; the other, evidenced by OSE, is promotion, which relies on the self-interested actions of local individuals. The final section presents a conceptual model that presents potential barriers to successful implementation of federal laws and suggests strategies to overcome those barriers.

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