A U.S. District Court judge in Washington has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Education from implementing an interpretation of the federal CARES Act aid that directs states to give a larger share of COVID-19 aid to private schools than Congress intended. The judge said that the agency rule subverted the intent of Congress. Washington is one of several states suing the education department over the rule.  

Public education groups, including the National School Boards Association, opposed the rule from the federal education department.  

Congress expected that the aid package would be distributed along the same lines as Title I, funds for disadvantaged students. But the department rule claimed that it “resolves a critical ambiguity” by distributing aid to all students. For example, if a private school has 200 students, and 50 meet Title I guidelines, under Congress’s intent, the school would receive aid based on 50 students. The department rule planned on giving aid based on 200 students. 

The funds, about $13.5 billion, were included for K-12 schools in the CARES Act to ease economic hardship from the pandemic.