Members of Congress ask U.S. education secretary to rescind rule on equity services guidance

The U.S. Department of Education just issued an Interim Final Rule regarding its equitable services guidance for CARES Act funding to school districts. Access the U.S. Department of Education’s press release for details.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (Massachusetts) and U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (Minnesota) sent a letter today to Secretary DeVos, urging her to rescind this equitable services rule. In addition to Rep. Stauber, three other Minnesota congressional members were among the signees – Rep. Angie Craig, Rep. Collin C. Peterson and Rep. Dean Phillips.

“The U.S. Department of Education’s equitable services Interim Final Rule regarding the CARES Act would cause greater disparities among schools and communities, and it would harm students who need more support to succeed in school,” said Anna Maria Chávez, Executive Director & CEO of the National School Boards Association. “NSBA applauds the bipartisan leadership of Representatives Moulton and Stauber and their colleagues to reverse the course of this unprecedented, harmful guidance that would disenfranchise our public school students.”

NSBA and other groups took part in a conference call earlier today with the Department regarding this Interim Final Rule. A few discussions points from this call are as follows:

  • Secretary DeVos stated that the CARES Act funding is a special pandemic-related appropriation, and that nothing in the law states that funds are to be distributed like regular Title I appropriations.
  • Assistant Secretary Jim Blew stated that, “We are encouraging everyone to put in your comments about the [interim final] rule … favorable or unfavorable.”
  • Assistant Secretary Blew also stated that if there are formal grievances, “In each district, there should be an ombudsman to address concerns between an LEA and a private school.”
  • Will be an “Interim Final Rule” with a 30-day public comment period.
  • Secretary DeVos Lead — More than 100 private schools, including Catholic schools, have stated that they will never reopen.
  • Assistant Secretary Jim Blew Lead — The earlier guidance states one approach. However, for some school districts that “only want to serve their low-income students,” the interim final rule would allow schools to calculate the proportional share for this purpose Lead — to “only serve their low-income students” [rather than all students].

In addition to the work from NSBA, MSBA has submitted a letter of concern to the Secretary DeVos and urged Minnesota’s congressional delegation to oppose the U.S. Department of Education’s recommendations related to method of Title I distributions for private schools.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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