This week a coalition of charter schools in Michigan and Ohio have teamed up in a federal lawsuit to challenge the Department of Education’s illegal rule that punishes successful charter schools nationwide.
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.
“This new rule will profoundly harm children who need the educational opportunities that charter schools provide,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of Michigan’s Charter School Association. “Charter schools shouldn’t be punished just because traditional public schools —and the current administration — don’t like them.”
“This attack on charter schools is not only deeply unfair to kids who would benefit from educational alternatives, it’s illegal. The Department of Education has no authority to issue these new rules,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Kruckenberg. “The agency cannot advance a policy agenda contrary to Congress’ clear instructions otherwise.”
The case is MAPSA, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Education, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.