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Clyburn sends letter to Education Secretary DeVos saying SC governor misused CARES Act funds

The keynote speaker at the Freedom Fund Banquet was U.S. Representative James E. Clyburn of...
The keynote speaker at the Freedom Fund Banquet was U.S. Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. (Source: Daniel Paxton/WAVE 3 News)
Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WIS) - Another challenge to Gov. Henry McMaster’s private school grant program has popped up on the national level.

Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman James E. Clyburn and Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott have sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling the grant program a misuse of CARES Act education funds.

Clyburn says that under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which established the Governor Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, only three categories of entities are authorized to receive GEER Funds:

  • Institutes of higher education
  • Local educational agencies
  • Education-related entities

The department’s guidance confirms that parents are ineligible recipients of GEER funds, according to Clyburn.

McMaster used $32 million in GEER funds to develop the Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) grants program.

The grant program provides one-time scholarships to middle- and low-income students wanting to attend private schools. It would give about 5,000 students money to pay for private school tuition.

Clyburn believes the SAFE grants could be in direct violation of the CARES Act. He wants the Dept. of Education to review its legality.

The letter also asks for an account of communication between the governor and the federal department:

“Additionally, please provide all communication between any representative of the South Carolina Governor’s office and the Department of Education related to the development, implementation, or legality of South Carolina’s SAFE grant program.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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