DeVos won’t appeal decision in Nessel lawsuit over private school funds 

Betsy DeVos | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos won’t appeal a court ruling that annuls an interim final department rule requiring K-12 public schools to share federal CARES Act relief funding with private schools.

“The Department strongly, but respectfully, disagrees with the ruling,” DeVos wrote in a Friday letter. “However, we respect the rule of law and will enforce the law as the courts have opined. The Department will not appeal these rulings.”

In July, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra partnered in suing DeVos to halt the interim final rule. Nessel, acting for a coalition of other states’ attorneys general, requested a preliminary injunction to prevent it from taking effect.

Judge grants Nessel preliminary injunction to halt DeVos’ private school funding rule

The coalition argued the department’s rule strips public schools of crucial federal funding provided under the CARES Act. Nessel said it would pull $16 million from K-12 public schools in Michigan. 

In August, U.S. District Court Northern District of California Judge James Donato granted the request. Courts in the state of Washington and District of Columbia issued two similar orders. 

Nessel and Becerra were joined in the lawsuit by the attorneys general of Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. School districts in New York and San Francisco and education boards in Cleveland and Chicago also joined it. 

Michigan argues in court DeVos pulled a ‘reverse Robin Hood’ on COVID-19 school funding

Nessel on Tuesday responded to DeVos’ letter, saying the coalition filed the lawsuit “for one simple reason: to ensure students in Michigan and across this nation were not robbed of educational resources they deserve.” 

“We were poised for a fight because it was the right thing to do, and will accept Secretary DeVos’ acknowledgement of her defeat,” Nessel said in a statement. “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.”