Five States Sue Education Dept. Over CARES Act School Funding

July 13, 2020 by Tom Ramstack

Five states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit this week that accuses the U.S. Education Department of shorting schools in low-income areas on their fair share of coronavirus relief funds.

Instead, too much of the money is going to private and wealthy school districts that do not need the money, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Participating states are California, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

They say the Trump administration is misinterpreting part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that sets standards for distributing relief funds to schools.

The relevant section of the law specifies how to distribute $30.75 billion for elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities.

The Trump administration uses a formula that distributes the money equally based on the number of students in the schools.

The lawsuit says Congress intended the money to be distributed where the need is greatest, such as to low-income students and their schools.

“The [Education] Department’s interpretation will deprive low-income and at-risk students, their teachers and the public schools that serve them of critical resources to meet students’ educational and social-emotional needs during and after pandemic-related school closures,” the lawsuit says. 

It adds that “the states will also be harmed by the loss of these critical resources at a time of severe crisis.”

When Congress allocated the CARES Act funds in March, it said the money was supposed to be distributed by states to “local educational agencies.”

The states that are suing said that means the money should be considered part of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Act provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers of children from low-income families.

However, an interim final rule from the Education Department directs local educational agencies to “provide equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools” as well as public schools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave further explanation of her agency’s intent in a June 25 announcement that said “CARES Act programs are not Title I programs,” which means they are not limited to schools that serve low-income students.

The states’ lawsuit says DeVos is out of step with Congress’ intent.

The Education Department “grafted its own allocation and eligibility rules on Congress’s directive,” the lawsuit says.

State attorneys general who filed the lawsuit directed their own harsh criticism at DeVos.

One of them was Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who said in a statement, “At a time when Michigan schools are facing an unprecedented crisis, every single child deserves the chance to succeed. But, yet again, Secretary DeVos has decided to tip the scales in favor of private schools, leaving the state’s public school students behind.”

The lawsuit adds to the Education Department woes that put DeVos on the political hot seat this week when she initially threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that do not re-open in-person classes in the fall semester.

On Thursday, two days after making the threat during a Fox News interview, she pulled back amid harsh public criticism from educators, health officials and political leaders.

In a separate interview with Fox News’ Sandra Smith she said, “American investment in education is a promise to our students and families and if schools aren’t going to reopen, we’re not suggesting pulling funding from education, but instead allowing families to take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated if their schools are going to refuse to open.”

Education

School Voucher Push Taps Frustration Over Distance Learning
Education
School Voucher Push Taps Frustration Over Distance Learning

ATLANTA (AP) — With her children struggling in many classes last spring, Kelli Rivera became so frustrated with how her suburban Atlanta district was handling the coronavirus pandemic that she withdrew them to home-school them. They're back in public school and mostly attending class in person.... Read More

IAVA Protecting Veterans from Predatory Schools
Veterans
IAVA Protecting Veterans from Predatory Schools
February 22, 2021
by TWN Staff

NEW YORK - The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America kicked off veteran education week this morning, continuing a six-week campaign to highlight the priority issues of its members. Over the course of this week, IAVA is highlighting its advocacy efforts to expand and protect veteran... Read More

How COVID Has Affected Public Opinion on Higher Education
Opinion Polls
How COVID Has Affected Public Opinion on Higher Education
February 17, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Attitudes toward American colleges and universities may have started evolving before the pandemic set in, but COVID-19 truly upended the higher ed system in ways that are sure to have an impact for years to come.  Through a series of mid-pandemic public opinion research... Read More

Biden Reframes His Goal on Reopening of Elementary Schools
Education
Biden Reframes His Goal on Reopening of Elementary Schools

MILWAUKEE (AP) — President Joe Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, restating his goal after his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered... Read More

CDC Releases Guidelines for Reopening Schools
In The News
CDC Releases Guidelines for Reopening Schools
February 12, 2021
by TWN Staff

ATLANTA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released its long-awaited guidance on safely reopening schools, emphasizing that it is"critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible." The top recommendations are what one would expect - the universal wearing... Read More

Report Shows Increased Higher Education Attainment Over Time
Education
Report Shows Increased Higher Education Attainment Over Time
February 11, 2021
by Sara Wilkerson

Earlier this week, the Census Bureau released a report brief that shows higher education attainment levels have increased for Americans over the past 15 years. Data gathered for the report was sourced from the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey initiative under the Census Bureau that... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top