National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

COPAA v. DeVos, 2020

In August 2020, NCYL, on behalf of The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for attempting to siphon emergency federal COVID-19 funding away from K – 12 public schools and the students they serve.

A U.S. Department rule announced in June 2020 would shift up to $1.5 billion away from public school students to private school students, causing devastating effects on the ability of public schools to safely and effectively educate their students during the pandemic—particularly students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities, all of whom are also disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Under the rule, in combination with other federal funds for which public schools are not eligible, private school students will end up supported by CARES Act funds totaling between $4.3 billion and $8.1 billion, despite the fact that they comprise no more than 10% of the K-12 students in the United States. Meanwhile, the 90% of the K-12 who attend public school will end up with CARES Act funds totaling, at most, $14.4 billion. There is no reason to believe that Congress intended such a substantial disparity in support for public school students.

The lawsuit seeks to have DeVos’s Rule set aside under the federal Administrative Procedure Act because it is contrary to Congress’s intent.