[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 112 (Wednesday, June 11, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 33486-33491]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-13648]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III

[Docket ID ED-2014-OSERS-0024; CFDA Number: 84.315C.]


Proposed Priorities--Capacity Building Program for Traditionally 
Underserved Populations--Vocational Rehabilitation Training Institute 
for the Preparation of Personnel in American Indian Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services Projects

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

[[Page 33487]]


ACTION: Proposed priorities.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes two priorities under the Capacity 
Building Program for Traditionally Underserved Populations. The first 
would establish a new vocational rehabilitation (VR) training institute 
for the preparation of personnel in the American Indian Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program. The second would encourage 
applications submitted through a collaborative arrangement between a 
four-year institution of higher education (IHE) and a two-year 
community college or tribal college. The Assistant Secretary may use 
these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later 
years. We take this action to improve the provision of VR services to, 
and the employment outcomes of, American Indians with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before July 11, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not 
accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after 
the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, 
please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the 
Docket ID at the top of your comments.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to 
submit your comments electronically. Information on using 
Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, 
submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site 
under ``Are you new to the site?''
     Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you 
mail or deliver your comments about these proposed regulations, address 
them to Kristen Rhinehart, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland 
Avenue SW., Room 5027, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 
20202-2800.

    Privacy Note: The Department's policy is to make all comments 
received from members of the public available for public viewing in 
their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to 
include in their comments only information that they wish to make 
publicly available.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristen Rhinehart. Telephone: (202) 
245-6103 or by email: kristen.rhinehart@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text 
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
these proposed priorities. To ensure that your comments have maximum 
effect in developing the final priorities, we urge you to identify 
clearly the specific section of the priority that each comment 
addresses.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall 
requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from these 
proposed priorities. Please let us know of any further ways we could 
reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving 
the effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about this notice in room 5027, 550 12th Street SW., PCP, 
Washington, DC 20202-2800, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate 
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who 
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the 
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Purpose of Program: The Capacity Building Program for Traditionally 
Underserved Populations under section 21(b)(2)(C) of the Rehabilitation 
Act, as amended (29 U.S.C. 718(b)(2)(C)) provides outreach and 
technical assistance (TA) to minority entities and American Indian 
tribes to promote their participation in activities funded under the 
Rehabilitation Act, including assistance to enhance their capacity to 
carry out such activities.
    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 718(b)(2)(C).
    Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 
81, 82, 84,and 97. (b) The Department of Education debarment and 
suspension regulations at 2 CFR part 3485.
    Proposed Priorities:
    This notice contains two proposed priorities.
    Priority 1: Vocational Rehabilitation Training Institute for the 
Preparation of Personnel in American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation 
Services Projects.
    Priority 2: Applications that propose collaborations, which must be 
demonstrated by formal agreements, between four-year institutions of 
higher education and two-year community colleges or tribal colleges.
    Background:
    The AIVRS program, authorized under section 121 of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act), is funded 
through a mandatory set-aside of the VR State Grants program. Because 
funds set aside for the AIVRS program increase at the same rate as the 
VR State Grants program, the number of AIVRS projects has increased 
from 69 to 85 over the last 10 years. However, section 121 of the 
Rehabilitation Act does not provide authority to use AIVRS funds to 
provide training and TA to the growing number of AIVRS projects. Thus, 
the Department has used the resources available through the set-aside 
authority in section 21 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide TA under 
the Capacity Building Program for Traditionally Underserved 
Populations.
    Although beneficial, the current and past TA projects differ from 
the training and TA to be provided through this proposed project. The 
current AIVRS TA project, the TVR Circle, (Tribal Vocational 
Rehabilitation Continuous Improvement of Rehabilitation Counselors, 
Leaders, and Educators (CFDA 84.406)), provides concentrated short-term 
training in specific areas such as managing expenditures, determining 
what constitutes an allowable service, and understanding performance 
report requirements. The TVR Circle was not designed to provide the 
scope and sequence of training that is intended for this proposed 
project. The Department also recently supported AIVRS Capacity Building 
projects (Capacity Building for Minority Entities (CFDA 84.315D)) that 
focused on providing training and TA to current and potential AIVRS 
grantees to improve their grant writing and ability to compete for an 
AIVRS grant. The Capacity Building for Minority Entities projects also 
provided TA for first-time grant recipients in order to increase their 
ability to carry out their grants. Unlike the current and past programs 
described, this proposed project will focus on the development and 
implementation of a structured program of training for AIVRS personnel 
on foundational VR knowledge and skills in the provision of VR services 
to American Indians with disabilities.

[[Page 33488]]

    During on-site and desk monitoring of the AIVRS projects conducted 
over the past few years, the Rehabilitation Services Administration 
(RSA) has observed that there is a need to help AIVRS personnel to work 
more effectively with individuals with disabilities and to fulfill 
their roles as VR counselors, VR technicians, and program 
administrators. Three factors contribute to this need. First, many of 
the personnel employed by AIVRS projects live in rural and remote 
communities. While many of these individuals have relevant experience 
in social service fields, they often have not had the opportunity to 
obtain formal training in rehabilitation counseling. Second, the remote 
location of many AIVRS projects not only makes it difficult for local 
personnel to obtain further training due to distance and cost, but it 
also makes it difficult to recruit VR counselors from other areas to 
work in AIVRS projects. Third, the AIVRS program requires projects to 
give a preference in employment to American Indians, with a special 
priority being given to American Indians with disabilities. While 
individuals who are American Indian may be more effective as VR 
counselors because they understand American Indian cultural practices 
and norms, this practice limits the hiring pool of VR counselors and 
personnel.
    Current AIVRS personnel could benefit from a structured training 
program focused on the VR process and practices and the unique skills 
and knowledge necessary to improve employment outcomes for this 
population. An important initiative that supports this priority is the 
issuance of the Presidential Memorandum on Job-Driven Training for 
Workers that was issued on January 30, 2014 (79 FR 7041). In 
particular, one of the principles in section 1(b)(ii) of the memorandum 
is that training programs should provide ``support for secondary and 
post-secondary education and training entities to equip individuals 
with the skills, competencies, and credentials necessary to help them 
obtain jobs, increase earnings, and advance their careers.''
    VR personnel require a better understanding of: how various 
disabilities impact an individual's ability to participate in 
competitive employment, how to interview and evaluate the eligibility 
of prospective AIVRS consumers respectfully and appropriately, how to 
develop a reasonable and achievable individualized plan for employment 
(IPE), how to manage effectively the services and supports provided to 
the individual identified in the IPE, how to obtain and utilize 
accurate labor market information to understand the skill needs and 
demands of local employers, and how to develop employment opportunities 
to meet those demands that are at appropriate skill levels and 
consistent with the consumer's aspirations, as documented in their IPE.
    VR personnel also need to understand how job training, reasonable 
accommodations, and assistive technology help individuals with 
disabilities to pursue, obtain, and retain competitive employment. In 
addition, program administrators would benefit from training in areas 
such as financial management and accountability, performance 
measurement, and case management. We believe that training in these 
areas will better prepare AIVRS personnel to provide appropriate, 
effective, and culturally relevant VR services to American Indians with 
disabilities so that they can prepare for, and engage in, gainful 
employment consistent with their informed choice.
    We also seek applications from partnerships between a community or 
a tribal college and a four-year IHE. We believe that community 
colleges or tribal colleges are uniquely suited to provide this type of 
customized instruction and that the involvement of four-year IHEs will 
improve the instruction by providing access to additional resources. 
The four-year IHEs can provide access to faculty who have a breadth of 
knowledge and experience in the field of VR in areas such as new and 
emerging needs of VR consumers. Four-year IHEs can also provide access 
to and guide the use of labor market information to communicate 
effectively with VR consumers and employers regarding information about 
the needs of individuals with a range of disabilities and who are from 
diverse cultural backgrounds, assistive technology services and 
devices, and strategies for identifying employer skills needs and 
demands.
    In order to ensure that proposed partnerships represent a workable, 
ongoing commitment, we would require that applications from 
partnerships demonstrate that commitment by providing a formal 
agreement detailing, among other things, how the partnership will 
operate and the respective roles and obligations of the participating 
institutions. We propose these minimum requirements for the agreements 
when inviting applications for the competition.
    References:

Obama, B.H. Presidential Memorandum on Job-Driven Training for 
Workers. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 30 Jan. 
2014. Available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-02-05/pdf/2014-02624.pdf.

    Proposed Priority 1:
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority to support the establishment of one 
institute under section 21(b)(2)(C) of the Rehabilitation Act--the 
Vocational Rehabilitation Training Institute for the Preparation of 
Personnel in American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services 
Projects (the Institute). The Institute will provide a structured 
training program in VR to current AIVRS program personnel to improve 
the delivery of VR services to American Indians with disabilities. The 
training program will consist of a series of trainings specifically 
geared towards building foundational skills that, when satisfactorily 
completed, will lead to a VR certificate awarded by the Institute. The 
series of trainings may be offered in-person, through distance 
learning, or a combination of both delivery methods. The Institute will 
conduct an assessment both before and after providing training for each 
participant in order to assess strengths and specific areas for 
improvement, attainment and application of skills, and any issues or 
challenges to be addressed post-training to ensure improved delivery of 
VR services to American Indians with disabilities. The Institute will 
provide follow-up TA to participants to address any issues or 
challenges identified post-training and ensure that the training 
received is applied effectively in their work setting. Finally, the 
Institute will conduct an evaluation to obtain feedback on the training 
and follow-up TA provided and to determine whether this improvement 
contributed to increased employment outcomes for American Indians with 
disabilities.
    The Department intends to award this grant as a cooperative 
agreement to ensure that there is substantial involvement (i.e., 
significant communication and collaboration) between RSA and the 
grantee in carrying out the activities of the program (34 CFR 
75.200(b)(4)).
    In coordination with the Department, the Institute must, in a 
culturally appropriate manner:
    (a) Develop a structured program of training on foundational VR 
knowledge and skills that will lead to AIVRS personnel earning a VR 
certificate. The training would include, at a minimum: Vocational 
assessment, determination of applicant eligibility, development of an 
IPE, the acquisition and use of assistive technology, and obtaining and 
utilizing

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up-to-date labor market information to understand the local economy and 
effectively match the skills of AIVRS consumers with the needs of 
employers. The Institute must provide culturally relevant training that 
goes beyond technical compliance with the statute and regulations and 
focuses on providing the basic foundational skills necessary to improve 
counseling and VR services provided by AIVRS personnel. The training 
topics must include, at a minimum:
    (1) Introduction to VR: An orientation to the field of VR 
addressing in general terms the various disabilities a VR counselor is 
apt to encounter working in the AIVRS program. The training developed 
by the Institute must teach AIVRS personnel to understand the nature of 
a significant disability and the complexities a person with such a 
disability experiences, as well as teach how various disabilities 
affect an individual's ability to participate in competitive 
employment;
    (2) Effective communication with AIVRS consumers including: 
Approaches to, techniques for, and relevant examples of developing 
trust and rapport with individuals with a disability, appropriate 
conduct when engaging with individuals with a disability, and 
interacting with members of the tribal council;
    (3) Effective communication with business: Approaches to, 
techniques for, and relevant examples of building and maintaining 
relationships with business. This includes educating potential 
employers about how reasonable accommodations and assistive technology 
can be used to support effectively the employment of individuals with 
disabilities. The Institute must also teach participants how to obtain 
accurate labor market information on available employment opportunities 
in their State and local area, and how to identify education, technical 
requirements, and necessary skill sets for the jobs available;
    (4) Conducting a vocational assessment and determining eligibility: 
How to obtain and evaluate necessary medical and other documentation 
and the results of assessments that may have been conducted by entities 
other than the AIVRS program. The Institute must teach AIVRS personnel 
how to use appropriate assessment tools that assist in determining an 
individual's eligibility for VR services and in developing an IPE;
    (5) Managing caseload: How to manage cases so that information can 
be retrieved and communicated to the AIVRS consumer in a timely manner. 
The Institute must teach AIVRS personnel how to create, manage, and 
appropriately close consumer case files;
    (6) Development of an IPE: How to plan and provide VR services 
leading to meaningful employment opportunities that are at appropriate 
skill levels and consistent with the consumer's abilities, interests, 
and informed choice; and
    (7) Development of job seeking skills: Approaches to, techniques 
for, and relevant examples of improving job seeking skills. This 
includes resume preparation, practicing interview skills, networking, 
navigating job sites, targeting job searches, and other effective 
skills that will lead to job placement for AIVRS consumers.
    (b) Develop a course syllabus that describes the proposed sequence 
of topical training.
    (c) Develop a training module for one of the seven topics in 
paragraph (a) to serve as an example for how participants will be 
trained in that area.
    (d) Develop a recruitment and retention plan that describes how the 
Institute will conduct outreach and recruitment efforts to enroll 
current AIVRS personnel into the Institute. Current AIVRS staff may 
nominate themselves or be nominated by the AIVRS project director to 
participate in the Institute. The plan must also describe how the 
Institute will provide academic support and counseling for AIVRS 
personnel to ensure successful completion, as well as steps that will 
be taken to provide assistance to AIVRS personnel who are not 
performing to their fullest potential in the Institute's training 
program.
    (e) Identify innovative methods and strategies for supporting AIVRS 
personnel when they have completed the training, including a plan for 
maintaining regular contact with AIVRS personnel upon successful 
program completion and providing follow-up TA on various situations and 
settings encountered by AIVRS personnel in working with American 
Indians with disabilities, as well as TA on effective programmatic and 
fiscal management of an AIVRS project.
    (f) Develop an assessment tool for use by the Institute before and 
after the training. The assessment must identify the strengths and 
specific areas needing improvement of participants prior to the 
beginning of the training. In addition, 90 days after the training is 
completed, the assessment must determine attainment of skills, 
demonstrated application of those skill sets, and any issues or 
challenges for participating AIVRS personnel that may impact improved 
delivery of VR services to American Indians with disabilities. The 
Institute must administer the assessment tool and provide a copy to 
participants. The Institute must also ensure that the results are 
reviewed with participating AIVRS personnel and shared with their 
respective Directors.
    (g) Describe a plan to provide follow-up TA, either virtually or 
on-site, to participants. The purpose is to ensure that the training 
AIVRS personnel received is applied effectively in their work settings 
and addresses any issues or challenges identified as a result of the 
assessment that is conducted 90 days after the training is completed.
    (h) Describe how the Institute will be evaluated. Such a 
description must include:
    (1) How the Institute will determine its impact over a period of 
time on improving the delivery of VR services to American Indians with 
disabilities and increasing employment outcomes;
    (2) How input from AIVRS project directors will be included in the 
evaluation;
    (3) How feedback from American Indians with disabilities will be 
included in the evaluation;
    (4) How data on the number of consumers served by the AIVRS program 
from other sources on tribal VR programs, such as those from the 
Department, will be included in the evaluation; and
    (5) How the data and results from the evaluation will be used to 
make necessary adjustments and improvements to the AIVRS program and 
training of AIVRS personnel.
    Proposed Priority 2:
    Applications that propose collaborations between a four-year IHE 
and a two-year community college or tribal college. The collaboration 
must be demonstrated by a formal agreement. The Secretary may require 
that the formal agreement contains one or more of the following:
    (1) Signatures from the president and chief financial officer of 
both parties.
    (2) A plan demonstrating how the collaboration will operate each 
year during the five-year grant period of performance. The plan must 
include how information regarding the progress of the grant, as well as 
any issues and challenges will be communicated, and what steps will be 
taken to resolve conflicts.
    (3) Roles, responsibilities, and deliverables of each party.
    (4) In-kind or financial contributions from both parties.
    (5) A plan to sustain the collaboration and the structured training 
program after the federal investment.
    Types of Priorities:
    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more

[[Page 33490]]

priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the 
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) 
selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of 
comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).
    Final Priorities:
    We will announce the final priorities in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priorities after considering 
responses to this notice and other information available to the 
Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional 
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject 
to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:  This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use these priorities, we invite applications 
through a notice in the Federal Register.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as an action likely 
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or 
tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the 
Executive order.
    This proposed regulatory action is not a significant regulatory 
action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866.
    We have also reviewed this proposed regulatory action under 
Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the 
principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review 
established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, 
Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination 
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits 
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into 
account--among other things and to the extent practicable--the costs of 
cumulative regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select 
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather 
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must 
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or 
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide 
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ``to use the best 
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future 
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these 
techniques may include ``identifying changing future compliance costs 
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated 
behavioral changes.''
    We are issuing these proposed priorities only upon a reasoned 
determination that their benefits would justify their costs. In 
choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those 
approaches that would maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that 
follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is 
consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities. 
The benefits of appropriate and comprehensive VR training for 
individuals working in the AIVRS Projects cannot be underestimated. 
Some staff do not currently have sufficient knowledge and skills in the 
field of VR. In addition, TA to these projects after staff completes 
the VR training will solidify the gains in knowledge made by staff 
during training. We believe AIVRS personnel well-grounded in knowledge 
of VR requirements and best practices will result in better employment 
outcomes for the American Indians with disabilities whom the projects 
serve.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the 
objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental 
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies 
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination 
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the program contact person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this 
document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free 
Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the 
Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System 
at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well 
as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF 
you must

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have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: June 6, 2014.
Michael K. Yudin,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 2014-13648 Filed 6-10-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P