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Shaheen Calls on DeVos to Reverse Unlawful Directive That Has Delayed Release of CARES Act Funding for NH Schools

Shaheen to DeVos: “Confusion still persists over the total amount of funding that will be available to support our public school students.”

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter this week to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos demanding that the Trump administration immediately revise a directive distributed in April that defies the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act with regard to federal funds provided for services for private school students.

According to the law under the CARES Act, school districts receiving these federal dollars are to provide funding for private school student services based on the private school enrollment of low income students. DeVos’ April directive flouts this stipulation, and instead, directs schools to provide funds for services for private school students based on total private school enrollment in that district. In her letter, Shaheen underscores that this violation of the CARES Act is an effort to redirect resources to wealthier private school families instead of to provide support for low-income students.

Shaheen highlighted how the administration’s flawed implementation of the law has resulted in significant delays in getting funds out the door to schools and continues to create confusion for schools. Shaheen wrote, “My state of New Hampshire was allocated more than $37 million of these funds. However, our schools have had their access to this funding delayed for more than two months after this critical law was enacted, and confusion still persists over the total amount of funding that will be available to support our public school students.”

The Senator continued, “This unfounded direction from your agency is a blatant attempt to redirect resources and services to wealthier private school students, in the midst of a global pandemic and in clear contradiction to the law. Additionally, the April 30 document has caused serious confusion for states and school districts as they struggle to comply with the law despite this conflicting direction from your department.”

Senator Shaheen closed her letter requesting that DeVos immediately revise this confusing guidance and implement the CARES Act as Congress intended. Shaheen’s letter can be read in full here.

In May, Senator Shaheen hosted a conference call with New Hampshire school officials and administrators to discuss ongoing COVID response efforts and additional help needed to assist teachers, schools and families with remote learning. Delays in CARES Act funding and confusing implementation guidance from the Trump administration on the private school student services funding issue was one of the top concerns.

Supporting New Hampshire students, teachers and schools amid the COVID-19 crisis has been a top priority for Senator Shaheen. She’s participated in virtual classes while students were engaged in remote learning, speaking with educators and students virtually from Holderness Central School’s 4th grade social studies classNorthwood Elementary School’s 8th grade social studies class and Nashua High School South’s “Woman as Hero” course. Shaheen is a cosponsor of legislation that would help ensure all K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices during the coronavirus pandemic. Shaheen also sent a letter urging increased federal funding for schools and school employees, such as cafeteria staff, bus drivers and custodians, who are working overtime to support their communities during the pandemic. In addition, Shaheen wrote to the U.S. Department of Education expressing concern for children with disabilities amid the school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just last week, Shaheen and a group of Senators sent a letter to DeVos, slamming her final Title IX rule, which will weaken protections for student survivors of sexual harassment and assault, and requires schools implement this new rule within 100 days amid the COVID-19 crisis.