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Education Department Will Not Appeal Federal Judge's Ruling

  • The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that they would not appeal a federal judge’s ruling to block the Department’s plan to divert funds Congress intended to support public schools grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic to private schools.

    In a recent letter Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sent to chief state school officers she wrote that even though the Department strongly disagrees with the ruling, “…we respect the rule of law and will enforce the law as the courts have opined. The Department will not appeal these rulings.”

    In March 2020, Congress appropriated approximately $13 billion to elementary and secondary schools through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, (CARES Act) to help school districts deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts were also required to allocate a portion of CARES Act funds they received to provide “equitable services” to private schools with the amount determined based on the number of low-income students residing in the district and attending private schools.

    However, the Department of Education created a rule that directed school districts to give private schools a larger share of funds from the CARES Act--money that would otherwise have gone to public schools. If the rule had gone forward, hundreds of millions of dollars of critically needed funds would be diverted away from public school districts serving low-income communities to wealthier private schools.

    The Council filed an amicus curiae brief in July with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California that outlined the devastating impact the effort by the Department of Education to rewrite the CARES Act would have on the nation’s big-city public schools.

    Four council member districts that were parties to the litigation – New York City Department of Education, Chicago Public Schools, San Francisco Unified School District, and Cleveland Metropolitan School District – said that they would lose about $53,000,000, $10,170,000, $1,740,000, and $822,952, respectively.

    “The Council is pleased that the Department of Education will not appeal a federal judge’s decision that blocked the Department’s unlawful rewrite of the CARES Act,” said Council Executive Director Michael Casserly. “Urban public school districts will now be able to use the money from the CARES Act for what it is was intended for—to help those public schools students who need it the most recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19.”