The Biden administration finalized a rule to raise requirements for charter schools to receive taxpayers’ money, and charter school advocates are crying foul.
A coalition of charter schools in Michigan and Ohio filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for what they claim is a violation of the 2015 expansion of the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP).
The CSP funds charter schools during the first three years of operation for those that seek these funds. Some schools don’t. The new rule purportedly would make it harder for for-profit schools to access the funds, and traditional government schools would get to weigh in on the decision.
The U.S. Department of Education said (PDF) they increased requirements “to ensure that Federal CSP funds support the creation, replication, and expansion of high-quality charter schools that promote positive student outcomes, educator and community empowerment, and promising practices; and to promote school diversity.”
The coalition calls the new rule illegal. From the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the coalition:
In 2015, with bipartisan support, Congress expanded the federal Charter Schools Program and appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars for annual grants to increase the number of high-quality charter schools. Congress gave clear instructions and criteria for distributing these funds; however, the DOE has issued a new rule that makes attaining these grants much more difficult. Applicants must prove that traditional public schools are over-enrolled, not just failing to serve the needs of their students; must seek approval from existing public schools; and must show that they are not serving too many students who are racial minorities.
Dan Quisenberry, president of Michigan’s Charter School Association (a party to the lawsuit), said the rule would “profoundly harm children who need the educational opportunities that charter schools provide.”
Pacific Legal Foundation lawyer Caleb Kruckenberg said the new rule was an attack on charter schools and called it illegal.
“The Department of Education has no authority to issue these new rules. The agency cannot advance a policy agenda contrary to Congress’ clear instructions otherwise.”
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