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Attorney General Kaul joins lawsuit against DeVos’ public school order

MADISON, Wis. –Attorney General Kaul today joined a coalition of six attorneys general in a lawsuit against U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ attempt to halt pandemic relief funds from K-12 public schools.

The lawsuit follows the latest effort by Secretary DeVoss uses of regulations that are allegedly unlawful reinterpretations of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and run counter to efforts to ensure that students and schools with demonstrated financial need get the resources they have been promised.

As a result of the initial final rule, an estimated $4,184,515.64 in Wisconsin alone could be diverted away from taxpayer-funded public schools in underfunded school districts to private institutions.

“The funds allocated to schools in the CARES Act provide vital support at a time when schools have had to make significant changes to the way they teach students,” said AG Kaul. “Instead of ignoring congressional intent and diverting funds away from public schools, Secretary DeVos should follow the law.”

On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted the CARES Act in response to the ongoing pandemic and its impacts across the country.

As part of the CARES Act, Congress set forth a formula, through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, for the distribution of $13.2 billion in aid to K-12 schools nationwide — with about $4,184,515.64 for public schools in Wisconsin.

In addition, aid to K-12 schools is required to be distributed in line with Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Title I). Title I funds are generally aimed at aiding children from low-income families across the country.

The lawsuit asserts that the Department’s interim final rule unlawfully exceeds its authority, undermines Congressional intent, fails to adequately justify its decision in breach of the Administrative Procedure Act, and violates the U.S. Constitution.

In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Kaul joins the attorneys general of California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here.

Sam Brink

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