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Michigan sues DeVos over order to give millions to private schools

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 17:46:40-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Trump administration ordered public schools across the U.S. to share their coronavirus funding with private schools. Some states say the amount they are being ordered to share with private schools is illegal.

Now Michigan is joining several other states in a lawsuit aimed at stopping it.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that Michigan is helping to lead a coalition of six states fighting an order issued by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a lawsuit on Tuesday.

Here is what it is over. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ordered states to share CARES Act funding with private schools based on enrollment.

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice says the CARES Act says that money has to be distributed based on Title One allocations. That means it would have to be distributed based on how many students are low income.

The money is supposed to be for specific coronavirus related expenses such as the purchase of PPE, professional development, and technology for remote instruction.

“The Secretary of Education manufactured guidance and a rule that favored non-public schools at the expense of public schools,” said Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General.

Taking a look at the numbers. Dr. Rice said if money were distributed based on Title One rules, private schools in Michigan would be eligible for about $5 million in assistance.

With the education secretary’s order, they would possibly receive about $21 million.

DeVos, who is from Michigan, has openly lobbied in the past for outsourcing public education in the past to private schools, so states that are suing say she is purposely trying to hurt public education.

“She doesn’t share our priorities for protecting and improving public education and that is why this action today is necessary,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“And so we expect that we will win, but it is another effort by the secretary to do whatever she can to circumvent the law at the expense of local schools,” said Nessel.

Last month DeVos responded to criticism of the policy saying quote, “The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers, and families impacted by coronavirus. There is nothing in the law Congress passed that would allow districts to discriminate against children and teachers based on private school attendance and employment."

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Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

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