Department Issues Guidance That Will Redirect Districts CARES Funding to Private Schools and Students

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Department Issues Guidance That Will Redirect Districts CARES Funding to Private Schools and Students

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance on the provision of equitable services by LEAs that would be required under the $13.5 billion that will be distributed under the CARES Act.  Unfortunately, their interpretation of how districts must support private schools and private school students with CARES funding is totally erroneous and will lead to substantial LEA resources being redirected to private school students and schools.Specifically, the Administration is choosing to dramatically expand the number of private students and schools that qualify for federal dollars based on a very inequitable and inappropriate reading of the law and what is required.

In determining the allocation for LEAs under the CARES Act, the State must look at the # of students in the district and the # of students in poverty. However, the dollars that districts receive can be spent on any population of students in the public school system and for virtually any expense the public school incurred before March 13th.

Under this new guidance, ED has decided that since CARES LEA funding is not limited to Title I students or school-wide activities and can be used on any population of public school students then any private school student and school should be eligible regardless of poverty. What this means is that private schools who have never before sought equitable services and students in private schools who have never before qualified for equitable services resources now are entitled to a proportion of CARES funding.

Like with equitable services, districts will be required to reach out to any and all private schools within their boundaries and say “hey, would you like some of this money? It’s yours. We will give you a slice of dollars based on the total # of kids you educate—don’t worry if none of them are poor.”

The net effect of this guidance is to funnel more resources to private schools regardless of need and to undercut the dollars going to public schools through CARES. We are working with the Department and the Hill to seek changes to the guidance.

If you have questions reach out to Sasha Pudelski at spudelski@aasa.org or Noelle Ellerson Ng at nellerson@aasa.org.