On Monday, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute of Ohio filed a complaint against the Biden administration's U.S. Department of Education. The charter school coalition alleged that the DOE illegally issued a rule that imposes new criteria charter schools must meet to secure grant funding.
On July 6, the Department of Education published the new rule in the Federal Register, undermining the existing law. The complaint alleged that the DOE intentionally set new requirements that are designed to decrease the number of charter school programs across the United States.
The DOE issued the new requirements on charter schools the day after Congress appropriated $440 million for the 2023 federal charter school program.
Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Kruckenberg told the Epoch Times that there are "three very problematic parts" of the new rule. In April, he submitted a letter to the Department of Education requesting that the proposal be rescinded. Kruckenberg will represent the Michigan and Ohio charter schools in the case against the DOE.
He stated, "One of the new requirements of the rule is that an applicant has to demonstrate that a new charter school is needed. But the way they're supposed to do that is they have to show that the existing public schools are overcrowded."
The updated requirement includes an "invitational priority to encourage collaborations between charter and traditional public schools or districts that benefit students and families across schools."
Kruckenberg points out that this rule is contradictory to the purpose of the charter school system. He states that charters "work as an alternative to schools that aren't doing what they're supposed to."
The final problematic criterion, Kruckenberg noted, is the "racial balancing component to the new rule."
The DOE requires that the charter school must demonstrate that it will "increase the availability of high-quality public school options for underserved students, promote racial and socio-economic diversity in such community or have an educational mission to serve primarily underserved students, and not increase racial or socio-economic segregation or isolation in the school districts from which students would be drawn to attend the charter school."
Kruckenberg explained that this last requirement means "the new charter school project can't racially isolate or segregate students either in the charter school or in the public schools that they're getting their students from."
The complaint filed by the charter school coalition alleged that the Department of Education and the agency employee who enacted the new rule did not have the authority to issue the criteria. It stated that the requirements were issued "without appropriate oversight from the President" and not by "an officer of the United States," rendering the rule invalid.