District Court Blocks Betsy DeVos COVID Rule on Private School Funds

by Mary Rose Corkery


A judge blocked an Education Secretary Betsy DeVos policy on Wednesday that transfers COVID-19 relief funds from public school districts to private schools, Politico reported.

U.S. District Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs, order Thursday, blocking release of additional relief funding to private schools.

Under DeVos’ policy, local educational agencies, like school districts, were to distribute a portion of funds from two programs to private schools under the CARES Act, according to the court documents.

“While the Department does not comment on pending litigation, the Secretary has said many times, this pandemic affected all students, and the CARES Act requires that funding should be used to help all students,” U.S. Department of Education press secretary Angela Morabito told the DCNF.

Morabito added that private schools should also be able to use COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES Act to help all their students like public schools do.

“It is simply wrong to discriminate against kids and their taxpaying parents solely because they chose a school that worked for them instead of the state run option,” Morabito continued.

Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, praised Donato’s order in Twitter post Thursday.

“This is good news for our kids, our educators and families in districts who need this funding most,” Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release.

“CARES Act dollars are designed to provide support to districts in low-income areas. Betsy DeVos’ rule would have stripped dollars away from schools in need of critical funding. She doesn’t share our priorities for protecting and improving public education. I will continue to work closely with Attorney General Nessel to protect our students, educators, and support staff and ensure CARES Act funding is used to support schools in low-income communities,” Whitmer continued, according to the press release.

“Michigan’s share of the $30.75 billion that the CARES Act allocates to K-12 schools is $390 million,” Ryan Jarvi, press secretary for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, told the DCNF.

Under CARES Act, “Michigan non-public schools should receive $5.1 million,” Jarvi said. That calculation takes into account the number of low-income students, not the whole number of students going to non-public schools, a method local school districts use when allocating certain funds, Jarvi said.

“In addition to the $5.1 million for non-public schools, the DeVos rule would divert an additional $16.5 (million) of the federal CARES Act funding from public schools in Michigan and instead give the funding to more financially secure nonpublic schools,” Jarvi said.

The additional distribution of funds to nonpublic schools under DeVos’ rule “would be the equivalent of laying off 466 teachers from public schools in Flint, Michigan,” Donato said in his order.

Eight states are part of the lawsuit against DeVos, as well as the District of Columbia, the Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools, the New York City Department of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District, according to court documents.

The U.S. District Court Northern District of California’s Office did not immediately respond to the DCNF.

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Mary Rose Corkery is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Betsy DeVos” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.










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One Thought to “District Court Blocks Betsy DeVos COVID Rule on Private School Funds”

  1. William Delzell

    If parents want to send their children to private schools, that’s their business. I spent one year at a private school while our family lived in Rome, Italy. Otherwise, I attended public schools in Nashville, TN. While it is fine for parents to send their children to private schools if they feel a need, they must not use PUBLIC moneys that are earmarked for public schools. The money should come out of parents’ pockets and from PRIVATE sources. (You conservatives, after all, claim to love the private sector over the public sector). This goes especially for RELIGIOUS public schools. Once you use public tax money to subsidize religious schools, you undermine religion instead of support it, although many self-styled conservatives think otherwise. Once a religious denomination receives government aid, it becomes dependent and subservient to the very government from which conservatives want to protect religion. We don’t want the government to control religion as it would under such an arrangement. Nor do we want one religion to IMPOSE its will on other religions or upon the agnostics or athiests. Freedom to worship or NOT to worship at all are VITAL freedoms that we must not allow fundamentalist fanatics to steal from us.