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Judge: DeVos cannot divert CARES funds from public schools

Judge James Donato approved a permanent injunction, thus formally closing the case. He then entered a judgement in favor of all plaintiffs.

LANSING, Mich — A judge has formally closed the case on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ efforts to rewrite a section of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that would have diverted $16 million in funding away from public schools in Michigan.

The lawsuit against DeVos was co-led by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. On Nov. 9, U.S. District Court Northern District of California Judge James Donato approved a permanent injunction, thus formally closing the case. He then entered a judgement in favor of all plaintiffs.

“This pandemic has greatly impacted students across the country. The CARES Act is imperative as it provides critical funding for our public schools and the resources teachers need to continue safely teaching our youth,” Nessel said. “This permanent injunction sends a clear message that the publicly funded CARES Act dollars should be used as Congress intended – to educate our public students, and not to serve the political agendas of a select few.”

RELATED: Federal judge stops CARES Act rule pushed by Betsy DeVos

The injunction prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from doing the following:

  • Requiring states and local education agencies (LEAs) to calculate the share of CARES Act funds for private schools in a manner inconsistent with Title I’s calculation for equitable services to private schools;
  • Requiring that CARES Act funds supplement, rather than supplant, other fund sources;
  • Restricting the distribution of CARES Act funds to only those public schools that participate in or are eligible for Title I; and
  • Taking any adverse action against districts or schools that relied on the original guidance or interim final rule before the preliminary injunction entered.

Nessel and Becerra lead the coalition that filed the suit against DeVos. The coalition included attorneys general of Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, as well as the City School District for the City of New York, Chicago Board of Education, Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District.

The permanent injunction can be seen here.

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