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DeKalb County School District, NAACP win major victory in CARES Act lawsuit

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DeKalb County School District, NAACP win major victory in CARES Act lawsuit

DeKalb County School District Administration and Instructional Complex on Mtn. Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse
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Stone Mountain, GA — The Dekalb County School District and the NAACP are claiming a win in a federal court case against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, striking down a rule which imposed unlawful conditions on federal emergency aid for public schools, according to a press release from the Dekalb County School District.

The district joined the lawsuit filed by the NAACP on July 1 in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenging a rule issued by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education that would have unlawfully forced school districts to inflate the amount of federal COVID-19 aid they must share with private schools. The rule would have drastically diminished the resources available to support public school children and historically underserved student populations during the pandemic, according to the lawsuit. The rule would have diverted approximately $1.4 million to $16 million from DeKalb’s students.

According to the press release from Dekalb County Schools, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ruled that Secretary DeVos’ rule violated the clear language of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in issuing a regulation that would illegally divert these funds away from public school students, benefitting private schools by allocating money to those schools based on enrollment and not the number of poor students. Judge Friedrich wrote: “Congress expressed a clear and unambiguous preference for apportioning funding to private schools based on the number of children from low-income families…” The court continued: “Contrary to the Department’s interim final rule, that cannot mean the opposite of what it says.”

In addition to DeKalb, the four other school districts listed as plaintiffs were Broward County Public Schools in Florida, Denver Public Schools in Colorado, Pasadena Unified School District in California and Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut.

“As one of only five school district plaintiffs, DeKalb County took a national leadership role in challenging this clearly illegal attempt to divert money from public school children,” said DeKalb County Board Chair Marshall Orson. “We are proud to have fought on behalf of not only students in DeKalb but public school students throughout Georgia and the entire country.”

 

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