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On July 7, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and State Superintendent Michael Rice announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, seeking to withhold needed CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds from nonpublic schools.
The Office of Communications releases the following statement from Most Reverend David J.
Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids, regarding the State’s legal challenge:
“On June 30th Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, which outlines safety
protocols to guide schools in their in-person opening for the new school year. At that time, she
had this to say:
‘I’m committed to providing you with the guidance, support, and clarity that is needed to safely
bring students back to the classroom for in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. In
doing so we will continue to put safety first, leveraging science, data, and public health evidence
to inform the decisions we make to serve each and every student in Michigan well. Today, I signed
an executive order and released the MI Safe Schools plan to provide a structure to support all
students in Michigan as they plan for a return of K-12 education in the fall.’
On July 7th, the Governor counteracted her own words when she, along with the state attorney
general and the state superintendent announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education.
The lawsuit seeks to withhold COVID-19 federal relief funds from Michigan students who attend
nonpublic schools. What a difference seven days can make.
This “about-face” is remarkable. Governor Whitmer has pursued an aggressive,
highly-detailed, COVID-19 approach to curtail the spread of the virus and to protect the public
health of Michigan residents. She has stated on numerous occasions that the coronavirus does
not discriminate. But now she has singled out a class of Michigan citizens—nonpublic
school students, teachers, administrators, and other personnel—who should not qualify for the CARES
(Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds available from the federal government.
You can catch the coronavirus in a store, bar, fitness center, and yes, a school. The Department of
Education wants the federal funds distributed to keep all kids and teachers safe in every school,
public and nonpublic. Why doesn’t Governor Whitmer want equal protection from the coronavirus for
the Michigan citizens who work or study at nonpublic schools?
The Governor has urged us to be in this together. Agreed! Let’s protect all Michigan students and
teachers not be selective about it.”
PDF of Bishop Walkowiak’s statment
Read Michigan Catholic Conference’s statement on the lawsuit.
Act now to save Catholic schools: Currently, lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are debating the next COVID-19 emergency relief package. Public schools are asking for $300 billion dollars to help keep students safe when they resume classes. Your assistance is needed to ensure that hard-hit Catholic school families also receive critical emergency funding.
Email your U.S. Senators and Representatives (Catholic Advocacy Network)