Michigan among four states suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for prioritizing relief funds for private schools


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Cruella DeVos is at it again, and now she's being sued by her home state, among several others.

On Tuesday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Michigan would join California, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia in taking aim at the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for allegedly abusing her rule-making powers and redirecting millions of dollars in federal relief funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to private schools.

Whitmer said it's time to hold DeVos accountable.

“Our administration is committed to working with Attorney General Nessel to stand up for Michigan's students, educators, and families to make sure our tax dollars are supporting public schools,” she said in a statement.

Under the CARES Act, more than $30.75 billion has been allocated to aid the nation's K-12 schools and higher education since the coronavirus crisis hit in March, with $390 million going to support Michigan's schools. The legislation was also designed to assist those schools with low-income students who may be considered “academically at-risk.”

The funds, which are intended to assist schools in paying for personal protection gear, as well as elevated sanitation efforts and digital training and technology for online teaching, are distributed to State Education Agencies which then direct money to Local Education Agencies, at which point money is distributed to individual schools.

The lawsuit claims the Department of Education “unlawfully and erroneously” interpreted the CARES Act, which will deprive low-income and at-risk students, as well as educators, of critical resources. The lawsuit outlines the Department's interpretation, in which they tweaked eligibility for funding by expanding to all private and public school students “rather than only low-income students,” regardless of whether the private school students were “low income, academically at-risk, or resided in a Title I School attendance area.” Their collective concern is that because of DeVos' rule those schools in need may not receive the funding needed to survive, thrive, and support its students and staff.

Nessel says this is another glaring example of DeVos attempting to “advance her personal privatization agenda.”

“... yet again, Secretary DeVos has decided to tip the scales in favor of private schools, leaving the State’s public-school students behind,” Nessel said in a press release. “The Secretary of Education’s job is to lift up our public schools, not tear them down.”

DeVos, who in the past has used her personal email for official business, and said teachers should protest their pay and school conditions on “adult time,” and whose personal security detail will have cost taxpayers an estimated $26 million during President Donald Trump's first term, made it so Michigan's private schools would receive $21.6 million in funding, The Detroit Free Press reports. Nessel and Whitmer, however, argue that under the law private schools should receive closer to $5.1 million in relief. They also predict that under DeVos' rule, that Detroit Public Schools Community District could lose out on $2.6 million, as would Grand Rapids. Flint's schools could be deprived of $1.4 million, Freep reports.

Last month, DeVos doubled-down on her ruling, saying “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.”

On Tuesday, DeVos joined Trump in putting pressure on schools to physically reopen in the fall, despite a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

“Corrupt Joe Biden and the Democrats don’t want to open schools in the Fall for political reasons, not for health reasons!They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!” Trump tweeted Monday.

In an interview with Fox News's Tucker Carlson, DeVos said “schools have got to open up,” adding that those adults who are “fear-mongering and making excuses” must stop to do what is best for students.

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