AG sues U.S. Education Department over CARES Act funding

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington is the latest state to sue the U.S. Department of Education for the way it is distributing emergency relief funds from the CARES Act to schools.

On Thursday, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington requesting that the court issue a preliminary injunction in the case, The Seattle Times reported.

Ferguson argued the Education Department has created new rules for disbursing the funds that would require public school districts to share a larger portion of the money with private schools.

Private schools generally enroll a much lower percentage of low-income students, and often have endowment funds, so their need is not as great, Ferguson argued.

The Education Department created two new formulas for distributing CARES money. Under the traditional formula, private schools in Seattle would have received about 3.4% of the federal money allocated to Seattle; Seattle public schools would have received the rest.

But under one of the new formulas the Education Department says districts must use, private schools in Seattle would receive about 19% of the CARES Act money.

Using the second formula, Seattle public schools would only be able to use the money at Title I schools. Title I is a federal program for high-poverty schools, but not all high-poverty schools in Seattle participate, for example.

The Education Department is also being sued by the national NAACP, which was joined in its suit by several school districts. Attorneys general in the District of Columbia and five states — Michigan, California, Maine, New Mexico and Wisconsin — have also filed suit against the Education Department. The lawsuits all make similar claims.

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