Chancellor’s Office Files Lawsuit Against the Department of Education

Lawsuit+filed+against+the+U.S.+Department+of+Education+provided+by+the+California+Community+Colleges.

Lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Education provided by the California Community Colleges.

Elijah Perez, Opinion Editor

California Community Colleges announced that they have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education claiming that their interpretation of COVID-19 relief funds are arbitrary.  

In a press release sent out by California Community Colleges on May 12th, it was revealed they are taking action with a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, specifically Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The press release detailed that the lawsuit was filed “to declare the Department of Education’s eligibility requirements for emergency grants to students under the CARES Act unlawful and unconstitutional and to halt their implementation.” 

A quote from Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley was included in the press release describing the students impacted by the Department of Education’s interpretation of the CARES Act, “arbitrarily excluded as many as 800,000 community college students. Among those harmed are veterans, citizens who have not completed a federal financial aid application, and non-citizens, including those with DACA status.” The press release discloses that California Community Colleges services an estimate of 70,000 DACA students.

The lawsuit also received support from the Los Angeles Community College District, Los Rios Community College District, State Center Community College District, Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, and the San Diego Community College District, all joining the lawsuit with Attorney General Xavier Becerra representing. 

Chancellor Oakley stated in a press conference on May 12th that the decision to file a lawsuit came after the Department of Education published an FAQ on CARES Act Funds. “The Department of Education issued an FAQ about the use of CARES Act funds. In that FAQ, we saw language that we felt was contrary to Congress’ intent, specifically in the restrictions of the FAQ imposed on the use of those funds. So at that point, we began to raise legal questions and we began to inquire with the Attorney General.”

However, Chancellor Oakley reassured that there has already been communication to community colleges on converting unused funds into funds to help aid students. He lastly added,“it is our hope that we stop the U.S. Department of Education from enforcing what we feel are arbitrary eligibility restrictions. We will continue to stand firm behind our students, particularly our undocumented students and advocate for them to receive the support that they deserve to be successful. Our campuses will continue to be a place of safety and stability for them.”