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

Parents Turn To Homeschooling As Schools Go All-Virtual
Education
Parents Turn To Homeschooling As Schools Go All-Virtual
August 13, 2020
by Gaspard Le Dem

Christy Murrell had doubts about the education her teenage son was getting at a public school in Fairfax County, Virginia.  The mother of three, who calls herself “a very hands-on parent,” was struggling to communicate with teachers at Westfield, one of the largest high schools in... Read More

Coronavirus Cases Among Children on the Rise as Schools Gear Up For Reopening
Education
Coronavirus Cases Among Children on the Rise as Schools Gear Up For Reopening
August 11, 2020
by Gaspard Le Dem

New data shows that a growing number of children across the country are testing positive for the coronavirus as many schools prepare to resume in-person classes this fall. Over the last two weeks of July, the U.S. reported 97,078 new cases of COVID-19 among children, according... Read More

Educators Say US Needs Better Plan to Reopen Schools Safely in Pandemic
Education
Educators Say US Needs Better Plan to Reopen Schools Safely in Pandemic
August 7, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - House Democrats, at a congressional hearing Thursday on reopening public schools, accused President Donald Trump of mishandling the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. They said schools might not have been forced to close early in the Spring and resort to distance learning if... Read More

Districts Go Round and Round on School Bus Reopening Plans
Education
Districts Go Round and Round on School Bus Reopening Plans

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — School districts nationwide puzzling over how to safely educate children during a pandemic have a more immediate challenge — getting 26 million bus-riding students there in the first place. Few challenges are proving to be more daunting than figuring out how to... Read More

How to Manage Anxiety Surrounding Back-to-School Transition
Mental Health
How to Manage Anxiety Surrounding Back-to-School Transition
August 6, 2020
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON - Even as students across the United States are beginning to head back to class, the reopening of schools remains a topic of intense debate. While no one can predict what is ahead for the Fall of 2020, there can be no doubt that COVID-19... Read More

Public Colleges Face Gut Punch from States’ COVID-19 Deficits
Education
Public Colleges Face Gut Punch from States’ COVID-19 Deficits

America’s public colleges and universities are facing one of their toughest financial challenges ever as the economic collapse hammers state tax collections and tens of thousands of students opt to wait out the pandemic or study online. With the recession ravaging the finances of millions of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top