Probe Ethnic Bias

Joseph A. Califano Jr., Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), has ordered an investigation to determine if ethnic bias had played a part in the rejection of a new grant application to a Bronx (NY) school district.

The inquiry was prompted by Rep. Mario Biaggi (D.NY) who wrote a letter of protest to Califano after he was informed by School District II that a grant it had applied for under the Women’s Educational Equity Act was denied when one of three HEW evaluators had given the project a sharply lower score by charging that “…All the people cited as resource management seem middle class (Jewish in ethnicity).”

In a letter to School District Superintendent Nicholas Cicchetti, Califano wrote that he was “personally appalled at the possibility that racial, class or ethnic bias in the review process may have caused” the grant to have been denied. He stated that he has ordered Dr. Emest L. Boyer, U.S. Commissioner of Education, “to investigate this matter personally and immediately.” The funding proposal involved a grant of $44,000 for the preparation of educational material “free of sexual stereotypes.”

Califano, who said he expects the results of the investigation to be ready by the end of the month, stated that he asked Boyer to “recommend to me any action that should be taken on this particular application and such modifications in law or the Office of Education’s regulations that may be required to eliminate inappropriate racial, ethnic, or class criteria in the award of education grants.”

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