Sen. Alexander on CARES Act Lawsuit Against Secretary DeVos

LANSING – Sen. Betty Jean Alexander (D-Detroit) has issued the following statement after Attorney General Dana Nessel, with the support of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state attorneys general, announced a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Secretary DeVos issued a rule on July 1, 2020, instructing local education agencies on how to allocate CARES Act funds. The change favors private schools and is inconsistent with the language in the federal relief package:

“Unfortunately, Michigan, and especially Detroit, is all too familiar with the devastating impact the DeVos family has had on public education. Our students have suffered because the careless expansion of charter schools has failed to provide quality schooling or any kind of accountability for that, so much so that we had to sue the state over a right to literacy. Betsy DeVos’s policies and those who force them upon us have been at the core of this decline. 

“Her latest attempts to reroute hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students is merely the latest attack on our public schools’ students. I am pleased to see our attorney general and governor take action to ensure DeVos doesn’t use her immense authority to further enrich herself or her family. The focus of the provisions in the CARES Act was always meant to be the students, not people who profit off them regardless of whether they get a good education or not.” 

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocated $30.75 billion for K-12 schools and higher education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately $13.2 billion is distributed to State Education Agencies, such as the Michigan Department of Education, which gets nearly $390 million. They then allocate the money to Local Education Agencies, which are meant to be the ones distributing the money to individual schools. 

Michigan Attorney General Nessel will serve as the lead on the lawsuit, alongside California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. 

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