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BackgroundOn March 27, 2020, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act in response to the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”). See H.R. 748. The CARES Act appropriated approximately $30.75 billion to create an Education Stabilization Fund (“ESF”) to provide emergency funding for several education programs—including public K-12 schools, charter schools, and some private K-12 schools—in response to COVID-19. Allocation of ESF grants is statutorily tied to the allocation formulas established in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”).
Using informal guidance, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED” or “the Department”) has indicated that local education agencies (“LEAs” or “school districts”) receiving federal emergency relief funds under the CARES Act must provide “equitable services” to private schools irrespective of the private school’s population of low-income or other at-risk student population. This differs from the equitable services statutory provision of the ESEA, which provides funding for low-income and other students at risk of not meeting state academic standards based on the relative proportion of eligible children residing in the district who are enrolled in the private school.
As discussed below, this guidance departs from both from the statutory text of CARES Act and previous Department …
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