Denver Public Schools sues Betsy DeVos over federal coronavirus aid to private schools

By Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat Colorado

Denver Public Schools filed a federal lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday, claiming that the U.S. Department of Education illegally diverted federal coronavirus relief funds to private schools.

The suit — filed alongside parents, other school districts, and the national NAACP — seeks a judicial order to stop DeVos’ rule from being enforced. It’s the second suit filed in recent weeks against the rule.

“Protecting funds for low-income families and schools that serve the public is the right thing to do at any time,” said DPS superintendent Susana Cordova on a press call. “It is especially important during the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The call was also joined by school board member Angela Cobián.

The suit turns on a part of the CARES Act, the coronavirus relief package that passed in March. The law provides billions of dollars to school districts, some of which must be used to provide certain services to local private schools in the “same manner” as under Title I, the section of federal education law that provides funding to schools serving large numbers of students in poverty. The controversy began a month later when the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance on how much money should be set aside for private schools.

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