DeVos won’t appeal decision against public schools having to share CARES funds with private schools

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks as Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid Mark Brown listens during a hearing before House Education and Labor Committee December 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks as Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid Mark Brown listens during a hearing before House Education and Labor Committee December 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Examining the Education Department's Implementation of Borrower Defense." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos won’t appeal a court ruling that annuls an interim final department rule requiring K-12 public schools to share federal CARES Act relief funding with private schools.

“The Department strongly, but respectfully, disagrees with the ruling,” DeVos wrote in a Friday letter. “However, we respect the rule of law and will enforce the law as the courts have opined. The Department will not appeal these rulings.”

In July, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra partnered in suing DeVos to halt the interim final rule. Nessel, acting for a coalition of other states’ attorneys general that included Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, requested a preliminary injunction to prevent it from taking effect.

The coalition argued the department’s rule strips public schools of crucial federal funding provided under the CARES Act. Nessel said it would pull $16 million from K-12 public schools in Michigan. 

In August, U.S. District Court Northern District of California Judge James Donato granted the request. Courts in the state of Washington and District of Columbia issued two similar orders. 

Nessel and Becerra were joined in the lawsuit by the attorneys general of Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. School districts in New York and San Francisco and education boards in Cleveland and Chicago also joined it. 

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Nessel on Tuesday responded to DeVos’ letter, saying the coalition filed the lawsuit “for one simple reason: to ensure students in Michigan and across this nation were not robbed of educational resources they deserve.” 

“We were poised for a fight because it was the right thing to do, and will accept Secretary DeVos’ acknowledgement of her defeat,” Nessel said in a statement. “However, my colleagues and I will remain on guard to defend against any future attempts by this administration to rob funding from our public schools and students who are most in need of these critical resources.”

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