U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
October 4, 2001
MEMORANDUM FOR THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
FROM: Janis A. Sposato
SUBJECT: Use of Appropriated Funds for Enrollment in Domestic Dependent Elementary Secondary Schools (DDESS), Department of Defense (DoD)
PURPOSE: To obtain the Deputy Attorney General's authorization to use appropriated funds to reimburse tuition costs in Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI).
TIMETABLE: A decision is sought as soon as possible.
DISCUSSION: Since September 1997, a number of Department task forces have identified concerns underlying the difficulty in recruiting and retaining a qualified work force in Puerto Rico. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Guam Resident Agency (RA) has a very high turnover rate and finding volunteers to staff the RA is a regular problem for the Honolulu Division. Many "quality of life" issues are at the root of our retention obstacles. A recurring theme is that access to "American" schools--like those provided by the DoD--are an essential ingredient in enhancing the quality of life. The inability to provide an English-speaking educational environment for the children of the Department of Justice (DOJ) employees has been viewed as both a recruitment/retention and security problem.
The Secretary of Defense has already determined that appropriate educational programs are not available through a local educational agency for dependents of members of the armed forces in Puerto Rico and Guam. Consequently, DoD has elected to fund its own school systems there. The children of DOJ dependents have been attending the DDESS since 1987 with very favorable results.
There is no DoD school presence in Saipan or the USVI. While the public schools in Saipan are taught in English, the vast majority of the students attending the schools speak English as a second language. The majority of the teachers in the Saipan public school system also speak English as their second language. A report concerning student achievement shows that none of the grades tested for the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 school years ranked higher than the 25th percentile in reading, mathematics, science, or social studies. Further, newspaper articles from the USVI state that in May 2000, the Governor declared a state of emergency in the Virgin Islands Department of Education. The declaration was caused by a major problem with the Department of Education's infrastructure, including lack of adequate school facilities and supplies and accreditation issues. Additionally, there are serious problems with gang activity in the USVI schools.
Funding for tuition reimbursement has become an issue for two reasons. First, the DoD recently notified the DOJ of its intention to seek reimbursement for tuition of all dependents who have attended its schools for 5 years starting with the 2001-2002 school year, except for dependents of FBI employees. DoD will seek reimbursement for tuition of all dependents (including FBI dependents) starting with the 2003-2004 school year.
Under the DOJ Authorization Act, Public Law 96-132, Section 4(e), 93 Stat. 1040, 1045 (November 30, 1979), DOJ components are authorized to spend funds for schooling if the Attorney General has determined that schools available in the locality where tuition payments are proposed are unable to provide adequately for the education of dependents. Under the Department's own regulations, the Deputy Attorney General may make this determination on behalf of the Attorney General.
RECOMMENDATION: That the Deputy Attorney General authorize the use of appropriated funds for tuition reimbursement in Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, and the USVI for components which have school-aged dependents in these locations. The tuition reimbursement costs for Saipan shall not exceed the amount that DOJ pays to the DoD for educational expenses for DoD schooling in Guam. The tuition reimbursement costs for the USVI shall not exceed the amount that DOJ pays to the DoD for Puerto Rico.
APPROVE: [signed 10/19/01] Concurring Components: None
Page created November 14, 2001