The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the latest entity to file a lawsuit against the US Department of Education over its guidance that local education agencies must use federal coronavirus aid to provide “equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools.”

The lawsuit contends that Congress intended the CARES Act, which the president signed into law March 27, to apportion coronavirus relief funds based on the number of low-income students at both public and private schools in each district, “in the same manner” as Title I funds.

In contrast, an Education Department rule stated that the funds ought to be distributed based on the total number of students in both public and private schools, resulting in fewer dollars for public schools, the lawsuit contends.

The Education Department amended the rule in late June, following concerns that Catholic and other non-public schools were being excluded from sufficient epidemic relief funds to support protective equipment for students and teachers, cleaning, training in remote education, and distance education tools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has defended the rule by stating it recognizes that CARES Act programs are not Title I programs.

“There is no reasonable explanation for debating the use of federal funding to serve both public and private K-12 students when federal funding, including CARES Act funding, flows to both public and private higher education institutions,” she said….

The Pasadena Unified School District in California, Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut, and Denver Public Schools in Colorado have all joined the lawsuit.

Some 5.7 million children, about 10% of school-age students, attend private schools, the Council for American Private Education, has said. About 8% of private school students are living in poor households, compared to about 19% of public school students.


The above comes from a July 23 story on Catholic News Agency.