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Permanent injunction granted in litigation over CARES act funding for public schools

Posted at 4:58 PM, Nov 16, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — A decision has been reached in the lawsuit led by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding the moving of millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding from public schools.

Devos had attempted to divert more than $16 million in funding from Michigan public schools to private schools. She has long held interest in supporting alternatives to public schools.

Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California approved a permanent injunction, formally closing the case on DeVos' efforts to rewrite a section of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Following his order to grant the permanent injunction, Judge Donato on Wednesday entered a judgment in favor of all plaintiffs.

“This pandemic has greatly impacted students across the country. The CARES Act is imperative as it provides critical funding for our public schools and the resources teachers need to continue safely teaching our youth,” Nessel said.

The injunction prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from:

  • Requiring states and local education agencies (LEAs) to calculate the share of CARES Act funds for private schools in a manner inconsistent with Title I’s calculation for equitable services to private schools;
  • Requiring that CARES Act funds supplement, rather than supplant, other fund sources;
  • Restricting the distribution of CARES Act funds to only those public schools that participate in or are eligible for Title I; and
  • Taking any adverse action against districts or schools that relied on the original guidance or interim final rule before the preliminary injunction entered.

In their litigation, Nessel and Becerra were joined by the attorneys general of Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, as well as the City School District for the City of New York, Chicago Board of Education, Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District.

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