U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a letter Friday, Sept. 25, acknowledging defeat in her effort to rewrite a section of the CARES Act that would have diverted over $16 million away from K-12 public schools in Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Sept. 29. 

 In litigation led by Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction Aug. 26 halting DeVos’ rule. Donato’s ruling joined two similar orders by courts in the District of Columbia and Washington State. 

 “We filed this lawsuit for one simple reason: to ensure students in Michigan and across this nation were not robbed of educational resources they deserve,” Nessel said. “The landscape of how a regular school day is conducted has changed for so many and Congress allocated these CARES Act funds for those most in need. We were poised for a fight because it was the right thing to do, and will accept Secretary DeVos’ acknowledgement of her defeat. However, my colleagues and I will remain on guard to defend against any future attempts by this administration to rob funding from our public schools and students who are most in need of these critical resources.” 

 In her letter, DeVos wrote that while the U.S. Department of Education disagrees with Judge Donato and the other district courts’ rulings, her Department will “respect the rule of law and will enforce the law as the courts have opined. The Department will not appeal these rulings.”

 Confirming what the CARES Act requires and Nessel had fought to enforce, the Department stated that “going forward, districts must calculate the minimal proportional share for CARES Act equitable services according to the formula provided in Section 1117(a)(4)(A) of the ESEA of 1965.” 

 Nessel and Becerra led a coalition of states that filed suit July 7 against DeVos and her Department for issuing a rule that would unfairly limit the ability of public schools to use federal funds provided under the CARES Act.

 The Aug. 26 preliminary injunction order prohibited the Department from enforcing its rule until a decision on the merits of the case could be rendered.

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