U.S. Dept of Ed Not Expected to Appeal in CARES Funding Lawsuits

After multiple lawsuits were filed against the United States Department of Education and the Department’s Secretary Betsy DeVos on controversial rule sending CARES funding to private schools, DeVos states that the department will not appeal courts’ decisions, which ruled against the interim final rule.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, in late August, a federal court in Washington ordered a preliminary injunction against DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education to stop the implementation of an interim final rule on distribution of CARES Act funding.

The interim final rule, issued in June, gives districts the choice between poverty-based or enrollment-based formulas in their distribution of CARES Act funds for education. In choosing the poverty-based formula, districts would be required to fund only Title I schools while also distributing funds to low-income students in private schools. The enrollment-based formula would require districts to allocate money for private schools proportional to their enrollment if they choose to provide emergency aid to all public schools.

Days later, another federal judge ordered a preliminary injunction as well, claiming the department’s interim rule goes against what Congress intended and is “‘interpretive jiggery-pokery’ in the extreme.” The motion from Judge James Donato impacts Pennsylvania, California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin, as well as major districts like Chicago Public Schools and the New York City school system. Another separate lawsuit, filed by the NAACP, Colorado’s Denver County School District No. 1, California’s Pasadena Unified School District and others, the rule was declared unlawful by a federal judge.

On September 25, in a letter to chief state school officers, Secretary DeVos stated the department will not seek to appeal the courts’ decisions, which ruled against the interim final rule.

From Education Dive:

Districts that chose to follow the rule will not be penalized, but going forward the Ed Department said it would “use our enforcement authority aggressively” to ensure districts aid private schools. Districts should now allocate funds for private schools based on the number of children from low-income families who attend those schools, according to the letter.

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