Pacific Justice Foundation is representing Michigan Association of Public School Academies. The federal lawsuit alleges the DOE invented new rules that make it more difficult for new charter schools to qualify for federal funds to get off the ground or to expand their classrooms. The lawsuit accuses the Biden administration of illegally changing a federal law, passed in 2015, that strengthened and expanded the Quality Charter Schools Act which itself dates back to the Bill Clinton presidency.
Joe Luppino-Esposito, deputy legal policy director at Pacific Legal Foundation, tells AFN the federal bureaucracy is now requiring a proposed charter school to show “community need,” meaning there is overcrowding in public school classrooms that justifies a charter school.
“Which we know is not the case,” he says, “in many places where charter schools are so dearly needed.”
The charter school movement is up in arms over a second requirement, too: A new charter school, or an expanding one, must match the “racial balance” of the community it is serving.
What may sound like a rule that considers race and racial balance is really a dubious trick, however, since charter schools are known for a long line of minority students and hopeful parents waiting for an open slot so the child can leave behind a failing public school.
“The DOE knows that in many jurisdictions, minority students are served by charter schools at a higher rate than in run-of-the-mill public schools,” Luppino-Esposito explains. “This application requirement is designed to prevent charter schools from serving those communities most in need of school choice.”
In an op-ed published at The Hill, Luppino-Esposito says the DOE has “radically upended” its own process for approving charter schools by inventing new rules to qualify. The op-ed says the DOE is now violating congressional authority by keeping federal dollars from charter schools because of those rules.
“It isn’t often that a government agency sandbags a program that Congress has entrusted it to execute," writes Luppino-Esposito, who urges Congress to review the new rules and wrestle its authority back from the U.S. Department of Education.