American Rescue Plan Act Specifically Allocates Funding to Vulnerable Student Populations
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, H.R. 1319 (“ARPA”), a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. The new COVID-19 relief bill provides supplemental funding for, amongst other things, K-12 public education, nonpublic schools, and higher education. This Alert focuses on ARPA’s impact on students with disabilities and other at-risk student populations.
The ARPA specifically allocates funding to support vulnerable student populations. The ARPA allocates $122,774,800,000 to the Department of Education for public elementary and secondary schools, to be used by September 30, 2023. The Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, is directed to use $800 million of this fund to help identify students experiencing homelessness and to provide them with wraparound services and assistance needed to enable them to attend and participate fully in school activities.
The remaining amounts of the elementary and secondary schools fund will be distributed to each state educational agency, which in turn will apportion at least 90% of the funds to their local educational agencies. The local educational agencies must then allocate 20% of the funds for learning loss interventions (e.g., extended school year programs) addressing students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on vulnerable student populations (e.g., students with disabilities). The local educational agencies may distribute their remaining funds, amongst an extensive list of other things:
- Activities authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”);
- Activities to address the needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth;
- Providing mental health services and supports;
- Developing strategies, providing training, and purchasing supplies to minimize the spread of infectious diseases; and
- Planning and providing guidance for complying with requirements under the IDEA during long-term closures.
States must distribute the remaining 10% of their elementary and secondary school funding as follows: (i) at least 5% to address learning loss; (ii) at least 1% to implement summer enrichment programs; (iii) at least 1% to implement comprehensive afterschool programs; and (iv) up to 0.5% for administrative costs.
The ARPA also provides additional aid for special education grants under the IDEA for the 2021 fiscal year, to be distributed as follows:
- $2.58 billion for grants to states under Part B of the IDEA (pertaining to children ages 3 through 21);
- $200 million for preschool grants under Section 619 of the IDEA; and
- $250 million for programs under Part C of the IDEA (pertaining to children from birth through 36 months of age).
If you have any questions regarding this Alert, you can contact the authors or your regular attorney at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.