Attorneys general in Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, New Mexico and the District of Columbia signed onto the legal challenge, which was filed Tuesday in federal court.
Becerra contends that is an unlawful interpretation of the CARES act, which allows private schools to get a disproportionate amount of Title I funds - traditionally reserved for low-income students.
Acknowledging that the pandemic was a crisis affecting all students, Congress permitted districts to use the funding not just on schools where poverty is concentrated but on all public schools, to provide technology, school lunches and health protections and other uses.
"Today's announcement is about stopping the Trump administration's latest effort to steal from working families to give it to the very privileged", Becerra said, adding the rule could put $1.6 billion in aid allocated to his state's public schools in jeopardy.
Department of Education Press Secretary Angela Morabito said that while the department does not comment on pending litigation, "the Secretary has said many times, this pandemic affected all students, and the CARES Act requires that funding should be used to help all students".
The lawsuit is headed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as well as six other attorneys general.
In a call with Vice President Pence, DeVos on Monday said governors had left $195 million unspent from the funds for schools allocated under CARES. The policy outlined how districts should distribute CARES Act funding to private schools based on student populations.
Kids have got to go back to school and continue their learning, says Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
DeVos's rule also makes all private school students potentially eligible for equitable services funded by CARES Act money. That means it would have to be distributed based on how many students are low income. "We need to make sure that they catch up", DeVos said.
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He said the rule undermines the intent of Congress and violates the separation of powers as established by the U.S. Constitution.
The CARES Act says schools districts are to share federal pandemic funds with surrounding private schools according to the Title One of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Tuesday, state officials announced a multi-state lawsuit against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
"Students across the country have already fallen behind".
"And now this fall they are suggesting that as a way to start school again you can choose zero days a week for your child to be in school or two days a week", she continued.
The Michigan Republican Party and an association of nonpublic schools criticized the lawsuit.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVosissued the rule June 25, arguing for equitable distribution of the relief dollars.
"The coronavirus did not discriminate based on the kind of schools MI kids attend, and neither did the governor's executive order shuttering every school building in the state", said executive director Beth DeShone.
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