by Todd DeFeo
An Ohio think tank has entered the fray in a federal lawsuit over a rule the U.S. Department of Education issued for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act includes an Education Stabilization Fund to help schools cover costs to safely reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The law directed the education department to distribute these funds “equitably” between public and private schools and students.
Last month, the NAACP filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging an education department rule “imposes illegal and harmful requirements on the emergency relief funds allocated to public school districts under” the CARES Act.
“As our coalition has argued in cases in Michigan and Washington, the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance is clearly consistent with the CARES Act and these lawsuits are doing nothing to safely reopen our schools and get our children safely back into the classroom,” Jay R. Carson, senior litigator at The Buckeye Institute’s Legal Center, said in a statement.
The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief in the case, NAACP v. DeVos, joining a coalition led by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). More than 40 state and national groups signed onto the brief.
“COVID-19’s impact on America’s students was not confined to public school sectors,” Libby Sobic, director and legal counsel of education policy for WILL, said in a statement. “Congress allocated critical funding to both public and private schools with the intent of helping schools reopen safely and serve their students.”
The Ohio Education Association, representing more than 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support staff at schools across the Buckeye State, applauded the NAACP’s efforts.
“The CARES Act funding was intended to help lower income students who have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, whether they attended public or private schools,” Scott DiMauro, president of OEA said in a statement to The Center Square. “The original rules for the disbursement of CARES Act funding were meant to ensure the money would be divided fairly and effectively based on where lower income students were enrolled.
“However, Betsy DeVos’ unconscionable rule-change would wrongly siphon critical money from local public schools to boost her pet-project private and charter schools,” DiMauro added.
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Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.