House Republicans have launched an investigation into the Department of Education concerning the use of relief funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Headed by republican representatives James Comer and Virginia Foxx, a group of lawmakers has jointly sent a request letter to the Department of education. The letter, with several requests from the faction, was sent to Miguel Cardona, the Education Secretary.
It included requests for all communications involving school openings or closings, whether with third-party groups, outside groups, or teachers’ unions.
The letter read, “Study after Study shows the learning losses caused by prolonged pandemic school closures are compounding and preventing students from achieving academic success. Committee Republicans plan to ensure the Department is doing everything in its power to ensure states and school districts properly target funds to remedy the acute learning losses brought on by prolonged pandemic school closures.”
The faction also added that most of the funds intended for the covid-19 relief for schools were used for other unrelated things. Moreso, a significant amount of the relief funds had gone unspent and unaccounted for.
A report from the Washington Examiner also reported how schools used their relief funds for several other expenses. Many of these schools used these funds to settle expenses like online learning infrastructure, diversity and equity training, et cetera. It was also found that a particular school district used its relief funds for new artificial athletic fields instead.
This investigation by the republican lawmakers could also shed some light on the misappropriation of covid-19 funds. Several school districts created mandates and policies in this period that were most likely unconstitutional but were ignored.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 25, 2022
It was revealed in 2021 that the CDC enabled some notable unions to review their guidance relating to reopening schools in the United States before finally publishing and announcing it. These consulted third-party groups and teachers’ unions presumably impacted the policies, which is why the Department of Education has been asked to present all related documents for investigations.
Early this year, the republican governor, Doug Ducey, sued the Biden administration about this issue. He had filed a lawsuit against Biden for revoking the relief funds for schools that failed to comply with covid-era recommendations like the social distancing and era. The administration ordered to stop awarding relief funds to these schools, although there was no proof to back that these recommendations could impact the spread of the virus.
In the 24-page filing, the Arizona governor pleaded to the judge to disallow the Treasury Department from withholding the relief funds needed by these schools.
Ducey said, “The Biden administration is attempting to hold congressionally appropriated funds hostage and is trying to bully Arizona into complying with this power-grabbing move.”
Comer, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also gave a statement to the media, faulting the Biden administration for the loss recorded after closing schools countrywide. He said “the Biden administration’s collusion with a radical teachers union” caused the loss.
Corner added, “America’s students are suffering from acute learning loss, a mental health crisis, and untold consequences from the Democrats’ prolonged school closures. This crisis demands urgency but so-called emergency funds are not being used to help students who have suffered from school closures. We need Biden’s Department of Education to provide answers about why these funds are not being targeted to remedy learning losses.”
Another member of the Committee. Virginia Foxx, who also took lead on the investigation gave a similar statement.
She noted, “Over the course of the pandemic, the Biden administration and its teacher union allies have kept America’s children from their classrooms — and acute learning loss has prevailed. Millions of dollars in funding provided to school districts have been stagnating while many students are unacceptably behind in their education development.”