DeVos Loses Latest Fight Over Rerouting Aid To Private School Students

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U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos backed a rule that would have increased private schools’ share of CARES Act dollars from $127 million to $1.5 billion, according to one analysis.

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According to one analysis by the Learning Policy Institute, the department’s reading of the CARES Act would have increased private schools’ share of CARES Act dollars from $127 million to $1.5 billion. The department first issued its controversial interpretation of the law in late-April, in the form of guidance. While that guidance was nonbinding, the interim final rule announced in June was enforceable by law.

«The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers, and families impacted by coronavirus,» DeVos said in June. «There is nothing in the law Congress passed that would allow districts to discriminate against children and teachers based on private school attendance and employment.»

In a June statement, Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association (AASA), called the rule «an opportunistic money grab, using the pandemic environment to advance the privatization agenda.»

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DeVos Faces Pushback Over Plan To Reroute Aid To Private School Students

In announcing the rule, the Education Department lamented that «most private schools serving low- and middle-income communities are under great financial strain due to COVID-19» and that «more than 100 private schools have already announced they will not be able to reopen following the pandemic, and hundreds more are facing a similar fate.»

Public school advocates argue this fight over how federal aid dollars should be used has forced districts to delay spending, even as their COVID-related costs mount. In an August statement, Rep. Bobby Scott, the Democratic chairman of the House education committee, wrote, «I once again implore the Department to abandon its unlawful equitable services rule and finally provide schools the clarity and resources they need to cope with this unprecedented crisis.»

As a result of the court’s decision, the rule is no longer in effect, but the Education Department tells NPR that it has not officially rescinded the rule and could still decide to appeal.


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