In response to the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in Adams v. McMaster, which rejected South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s attempt to use the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to create tuition grants for private school students, Anna Maria Chávez, Executive Director and CEO of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), issued the following statement:
“NSBA commends the South Carolina Supreme Court for ruling in accordance with the amicus brief the association filed in this case. The South Carolina Supreme Court found, as we highlighted in our argument, that funneling public CARES Act aid to private schools is unlawful. Furthermore, we are extremely pleased that during oral argument Justice Kaye Hearn identified NSBA as having drawn the Court’s attention to recent federal court rulings rejecting the U.S. Department of Education’s misinterpretation of the CARES Act’s intent.
“As NSBA argued in its brief, the CARES Act was intended to support public school children and families in poverty. A letter signed by 74 bipartisan members of Congress to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reaffirmed the purpose of the emergency funding. Governor McMaster’s Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants, amounting to two-thirds of the $48 million GEER Fund allocation he received, was designed to assist students already attending private schools to stay in them.
“The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision recognizes that the Governor’s SAFE grants was a clear violation of the state’s constitutional commitment to public school students. In South Carolina, 67% of students are eligible for federal free and reduced price meals—one of the highest percentages in the nation, second only to D.C. Voucher programs like the proposed SAFE grants divert public money to private schools, draining already limited resources and diluting broad community support.
“NSBA—which represents state associations that serve more than 90,000 school board members, who govern more than 14,000 public school districts—will continue to fight against privatization efforts during this unprecedented time. Public education is a civil right. We must support our public schools and the more than 50 million students who depend on them.”