06.25.20

Chairman Scott Statement on Equitable Services Rule

WASHINGTON – Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) released the following statement after the Department of Education issued an interim final rule to redirect COVID-19 relief funding from high-poverty public schools toward services for students in private schools, regardless of their wealth. 

“Republicans and Democrats at all levels of government agree that the Department’s interpretation of the CARES Act’s equitable services requirement violates both the letter and spirit of the law. Unfortunately, despite the clear text of the CARES Act and the overwhelmingly negative feedback the Department received from bipartisan Members of Congress and state education leaders across the country, the Department is doubling down on its plan to strip low-income public school students of critical resources during a global pandemic. 

“The equitable services rule does not address the fatal flaw in the Department’s handling of emergency education funding provided under the CARES Act. Regardless of which option a school district chooses, the Department’s new rule still forces them to divert valuable resources intended for low-income students to serve private school students, regardless of wealth.

“According to Learning Policy Institute, the Department’s original directive would allocate an additional $1.35 billion in CARES Act funding for services to private schools.

“States have already made clear that they cannot follow both the Department’s directive and the plain language of the CARES Act. This rule, which was issued without a formal public comment period, will create more confusion at a time when schools are already facing unprecedented challenges.

“The Department should be providing clear leadership and guidance to help students, parents, and school districts cope with the impact of the pandemic. Instead, it has issued another confusing directive that will undermine efforts to maintain access to education during this pandemic. I urge the Secretary to withdraw this rule and follow the law that Congress enacted.”

 

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