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NAACP sues Education Department over federal aid money for private schools

“You literally accelerate robbing from the poor to benefit the rich,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP national president and CEO.

Betsy DeVos AP

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the latest organization to sue the Education Department over the distribution of $13 billion of federal aid for K-12 schools.

On Wednesday (July 22), the largest civil rights group filed a lawsuit accusing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos of illegally changing the rules for distributing the “Coronavirus aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) money to benefit wealthy private K-12 schools,” according to ABC News.

“You literally accelerate robbing from the poor to benefit the rich,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP national president and CEO.

The lawsuit says that the CARES Act, which was signed by Donald Trump back in March, states that funds are supposed to be distributed by the number of “low-wealth students” at that particular school. The suit also states that DeVos’ “interim final rule” says that the funds should be distributed equally with private schools based on the total number of students who attend that school, regardless of how many are “low-wealth” students.

“The rule is as immoral as it is illegal,” the lawsuit states. “In a moment of crisis—when public school districts are called upon to educate their students in unprecedented circumstances, to protect their students and staff from disease, and to feed families who have been plunged into poverty, all with decimated state and local revenues—it is unconscionable for Defendants to siphon away the CARES Act’s desperately needed funds for the benefit of more affluent private school students.”

Johnson says that Devos’ rule will change public schools where “80, 90 and 99%” of the students are from disadvantaged families.

“She’s trying to increase allocation disproportionately for private schools over public schools in the midst of the debate over whether or not schools should reopen. It’s horrific what she’s doing,” Johnson told the outlet. “What will happen is you further take money away from children who are financially in need to benefit high-wealth children.”

A similar suit has been filed by attorney generals in Maine, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, New Mexico and Washington, D.C. School districts in Cleveland, Chicago, New York City and San Francisco have also filed a lawsuit against DeVos.

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