On September 4, 2020, United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich issued an Order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed on behalf of public school students from California, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia challenging an unlawful restriction imposed by US Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos on over $16 billion in funds that Congress allocated to schools under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) Act.

The Court found the Department of Education’s Interim Final Rule (forcing school districts to divert funds from low income students and public schools towards private schools) to be in direct contravention of the express textual mandate of Congress, as expressed in the CARES Act. Judge Friedrich’s Opinion noted that, “Because of this unlawful rule, public schools would have received insufficient funding to reopen safely or to provide remote learning for their students, jeopardizing the health and education of countless children.”

Earlier, on August 28, 2020, Lieff Cabraser filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff schools and students. Attorney Christopher Jordan, who spearheaded the firm’s effort, said “It was an honor to represent our amici school districts, both urban and rural, large and small, and the 350,000 students they serve in this crucial case. We are excited to know that school districts will receive the federal aid under the CARES Act they are lawfully entitled to and we hope this decision helps schools reopen safely and carry out their important goal of educating our youth.”

“We are very happy that in vacating the Department of Education’s rule, the Court has ensured that millions of low-income students and public schools will get the resources and support they need,” adds Lieff Cabraser associate Kartik S. Madiraju, who drafted and shepherded the brief through to filing. “This ruling is based on the clear textual mandate of Congress, and gives effect to the intent of our elected representatives.”

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