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Judge blocks rule that moves relief funds to private schools

school desks photo
Public Domain Images | CC BY 2.0

A federal judge in California blocked a federal rule that Michigan and seven other states said would unlawfully allow too much pandemic relief aid to be diverted from K-12 public schools to private ones.

Judge James Donato ruled late Wednesday. It came days after a different federal judge issued a similar injunction in a lawsuit filed by Washington state.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who has helped lead the lawsuit along with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, said the “money was meant to assist the nation’s public schools that are most in need of financial support,” but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ policy “does the exact opposite.”

The decision temporarily halts the U.S. government from implementing the rule in Michigan, California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; and school districts in New York City, Chicago, Cleveland and San Francisco. Michigan has said the rule could cost public schools $16 million, including $2.6 million each in Detroit, the state’s largest district, and Grand Rapids.