Education, Health, Politics

Attorney General Frosh joins coalition seeking to block rule limiting K-12 public school pandemic relief funds

BALTIMORE, MD—Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has joined a coalition of nine attorneys general and several local jurisdictions in filing for a preliminary injunction to block U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ attempt to redirect pandemic relief funds away from K-12 public schools while litigation is ongoing.

The new action comes in light of efforts that reinterpret the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As a result of the interim final rule, $15 million in Maryland could be diverted away from taxpayer-funded public schools to private institutions.

“Devos’ rule will strip away COVID-19 relief funding from the poorest students and hardest-hit jurisdictions and steer more of it to private schools that serve wealthier populations,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Congress intended this money to go to the schools that need it most. Betsy DeVos is violating the law.”

On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted the CARES Act in response to the ongoing pandemic and its impacts across the country. Under the Act, the coalition argues that Secretary DeVos is required to allocate funding to help schools prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. Specifically, they say the CARES Act, among other things, requires the Trump administration to distribute billions of dollars in aid through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to K-12 schools across the country – with more than $230 million slated for public schools in Maryland from the combined funds.

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Building on the lawsuit filed last week, Attorney General Frosh urged the court to immediately enjoin the U.S. Department of Education’s new rule, arguing that it threatens imminent and irreparable harm to Maryland and the other plaintiffs, to schools, and to students across the country.

In filing the brief, Attorney General Frosh joins the attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, 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.

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