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Accrediting Commission Clears House Page School

The House Page School has received a clean bill of health following an investigation by its accrediting institution over allegations by a former employee that students were not spending enough time in the classroom.

The Middle States Association’s Commission on Secondary Schools, which accredits the page school, issued its decision in a letter last month to Matt Frattali, a former tutor who initiated the investigation, and Linda Miranda, the school’s principal.

“Based on its investigation, the Commission on Secondary Schools finds that the U.S. House of Representatives Page School continues to be in full compliance with all MSA accreditation standards,” states the letter, signed by Susan Nicklas, the commission’s executive director. “We find the U.S. House of Representatives Page School remains true to the mission upon which it was founded.”

The investigation, which began in mid-August, was the first of its kind since the school received accreditation in 1996.

House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) called Frattali’s complaint “baseless.”

“It’s just irritating that this former employee, who was disgruntled, caused this to happen. But nobody objected to having a second look at this,” Ney said. He also praised Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl, whose office oversees the Page School.

“The Clerk’s done a spectacular job, so [the decision] didn’t come as a surprise to me,” Ney said.

Frattali, who spent two years at the school before being dismissed in June 2003 for forging a student’s signature on a study hall attendance sheet, could not be reached for comment.

In his formal complaint filed in August, Frattali, who teaches at the New School of Northern Virginia, asserted that House pages spent up to 20 percent fewer hours in the classroom than students in traditional public schools, where the typical school year lasts from 170 to 180 days.

That alleged violation would mean the school had failed to meet requirements outlined in MSA’s “educational programs” standards, one of several areas in which the school must qualify to receive accreditation.

When the investigation began, House officials defended the program, saying the school not only exceeds the commission’s requirements but has also improved since first receiving its accreditation.

Students spend an average of 20.7 hours in class each week, up slightly from the 16.6 hour average in 1996. In 1998 the House Page Board extended the school day by one hour and 25 minutes during days in which the House is not in session.

The House Page Program, which dates to the 1800s, allows students to study the House of Representatives up close by serving on the chamber floor while continuing a standard high school curriculum. To take part in the program students must meet academic requirements, provide letters of recommendation, write an essay and be sponsored by a Member.

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