California sues Betsy DeVos over rule steering coronavirus aid to private schools

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Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that MI is helping to lead a coalition of six states fighting an order issued by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a lawsuit on Tuesday. DeVos's rule, however, says coronavirus relief money should be distributed based on the total number of students in any private school that wishes to participate, and that equitable services must be provided to all students enrolled, even the affluent ones.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched an all-out effort pressing state and local officials to reopen schools this fall, arguing that some are keeping schools closed not because of the risks from the coronavirus pandemic but for political reasons.

Organizations representing school districts and Becerra charged DeVos and President Trump with subverting Congress' intent to push her agenda of promoting private schools and school choice.

"We want to reopen the schools", Trump said. "They can hear any concerns, any ideas, anything at all we can give them to help make the best of the best decisions as we talk about returning to school", says Superintendent Burch.

The CARES Act says schools districts are to share federal pandemic funds with surrounding private schools according to the Title One of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

DeVos also criticized many schools' attempts at distance education after the pandemic prompted them to move classes online last spring.

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The Michigan Attorney General has said DeVos's interpretation not only contradicts the plain language of the CARES Act but could mean that, in districts with large private school populations, public schools serving low-income students would receive less relief money, which would instead be diverted to their private school peers.

"The Secretary of Education manufactured guidance and a rule that favored non-public schools at the expense of public schools", said Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General. "The question is whether we care enough about our children to ALLOW them to go to school safely. Our behavior, our commitment to shared sacrifice - or our selfishness - will determine what happens this fall for kids". It would prohibit districts from using federal aid on non-Title I designated schools where there are also many low-income students.

"All students in this country deserve an equal chance at an education".

"It's expected that it will look different depending on where you are, but what's clear is that students and their families need more options", she told governors. "The CDC encourages all schools to do what they need to reopen, and to have plans that anticipate that COVID-19 cases will in fact occur".

"It's clear that the greater risk to our society is to have these schools close", Redfield said.

Becerra said the department unlawfully interpreted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which established guidelines to distribute $13.2 billion in aid to schools nationwide using Title I funds earmarked for students from low-income families.

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