I’m sure most of you are aware that MDE chose to allocate equitable services based on poverty as opposed to private school student enrollment, as guidance from the US Department of Education detailed. There has been much disagreement on Capitol Hill with DeVos’s interpretation of the Act. Members from both sides of the aisle in Congress indicated the funds were to be distributed to the states following Title I formulas and intended for the most vulnerable of students. The allocation of equitable services via student enrollment will shift funds from students of poverty to private schools, and in some places where they are a number of private schools in a district, it is possible private schools may receive a larger percentage of the ESSER funds than the public schools. The guidance put forth by USDE is not enforceable, and MDE has chosen not to follow it.
USDE has now chosen to put out a ruling regarding equitable services and ESSERF. This ruling is enforceable by law. It allows states to have two choices.
- Choose to serve students of poverty. If this is the option chosen, then equitable services will be provided only for the number of students in poverty at the private school. If the state chooses this option then the funds can only be used for actions that support the students of poverty. This would not allow for sanitizing all schools, connectivity for all students, etc. It limits the use of funds.
- Choose to serve all students. If this option is chosen, the equitable services will be based on enrollment. Funds are available to use as detailed by the 12 allowable uses.
Now to wait and see what MDE has to say. Plans are due July 10. The ruling has a 30 day comment period. It sounds like we will have to rewrite plans. Don’t spend all your money too fast!
Links to the ruling and to an article summarizing the ruling follow.