USED & White House
Letter from Assistant Secretary Brogan re: Flexibility for States on K-12 Education Funding

Dear colleagues,


Please see the letter and attached waiver template that was shared with chief state school officers earlier today.




Patrick Rooney
Director, School Support and Accountability


From: Honeysett, Adam <>
Sent: Saturday, April 4, 2020 12:01 PM
Subject: Letter from Assistant Secretary Brogan re: Flexibility for States on K-12 Education Funding


April 3, 2020


Dear Chief State School Officer:


The President recently signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Pub. L. No. 116-136 (March 27, 2020), which provides substantial relief to children and educators who have been profoundly affected by the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). I understand that many of you have questions about the CARES Act, especially available funding, and we will be providing additional information to you as soon as possible. In the interim, you are welcome to submit CARES Act questions by e-mail to


The purpose of today’s message is to discuss flexibility in K-12 education funding, in particular the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary to provide additional flexibility through waivers of specific requirements. As you know, on March 20, 2020, Secretary DeVos provided flexibility with respect to certain requirements in Title I, Part A of the ESEA regarding statewide assessments, accountability and school improvement, and some reporting requirements for the 2019-2020 school year due to the unprecedented challenges you are facing due to COVID-19. In light of this on-going national emergency declared by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, and to help you in your planning for how to resume education, today I am writing to offer additional flexibilities under the CARES Act.


Pursuant to the authority under the CARES Act,  I am inviting you to request waivers of the following provisions:

  • Section 1127(b) of Title I, Part A of the ESEA so that your State educational agency (SEA) may waive, more than once every three years, if necessary, the 15 percent carryover limitation in ESEA section 1127(a) for fiscal year (FY) 2019 Title I, Part A funds.
  • Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend the period of availability of FY 2018 funds for programs in which your SEA participates under its approved consolidated State plan until September 30, 2021.
  • Section 4106(d) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA related to local educational agency (LEA) needs assessments for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA with respect to content-area spending requirements for FYs 2018 and 2019 Title IV, Part A funds.
  • Section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA with respect to the spending limitation for technology infrastructure for FYs 2018 and 2019 Title IV, Part A funds.
  • Section 8101(42) of the ESEA, which defines “professional development,” for activities funded for the 2019-2020 school year.


Through these waivers, your SEA would be able to approve an LEA to carry over more than 15 percent of its Title I, Part A funds, even if the LEA had received approval to exceed this limitation in the past three years. Your SEA would be able to extend for itself and its subgrantees the period of availability of FY 2018 funds for programs included in your consolidated State plan to allow additional time to obligate those funds. Your SEA would also be able to permit an LEA or consortium of LEAs to use its Title IV, Part A funds to best meet its needs without regard to content-area spending requirements, spending limits on technology infrastructure, or completing a needs assessment. Finally, by waiving the definition of professional development, your SEA and subgrantees would be able to conduct time-sensitive, one-time or stand-alone professional development focused on supporting your educators to provide effective distance learning.


I want to continue to thank you for the work you are doing to help ensure learning continues for all your State’s students in this difficult time. The U.S. Department of Education is committed to supporting you with every tool at our disposal and extending all flexibilities within our control.


If you are interested in receiving one or more of these waivers on behalf of your SEA and its subgrantees, please submit your request to I am attaching a streamlined template for your convenience that includes a checklist to designate the waivers you desire. My staff is committed to providing a response within one business day to any SEA that submits a waiver request using this optional waiver template. I recognize that you have many questions and will need additional supports, including the possibility of additional waivers, as you deal with the COVID-19 national emergency.


If you have additional questions or concerns regarding these waivers, contact us at We are also interested in your input on other requirements for which you anticipate a need for a waiver that are not currently covered by the CARES Act. If you have suggestions, please submit those to If you have general questions regarding COVID-19 and how the Department can best support you, please contact I encourage you to continue to monitor information regarding COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at and our website at


Thank you for your continued commitment to our nation’s students during these extraordinary circumstances.






Frank T. Brogan

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education                     




cc:    Council of Chief State School Officers

         State Title I, Part A Directors

         State Title I, Part C Directors

         State Title I, Part D Directors

         State Title II, Part A Directors

         State Title III, Part A Directors

         State Title IV, Part A Directors

         State Title IV, Part B Directors

         State Title V, Part B, Subpart 2 Directors

         State Assessment Directors

         McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Directors

About the Author

Patrick Rooney is the Director of two offices--Evidence-Based Practices Assessment and Accountability and School Support and Accountability within ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before this recent appointment, Mr. Rooney was the Deputy Director of the Office of State Support.  Prior to joining the Office of State Support, Mr. Rooney worked in the Implementation and Support Unit, where he helped lead the work of the Reform Support Network, providing technical assistance to states implementing comprehensive Race to the Top reforms, and the Race to the Top Assessment program, which provided grants to groups of states to develop new assessments aligned to state’s college- and career-ready standards. Mr. Rooney also worked in the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education, where he was a senior policy advisor and worked on a wide variety of K-12 issues in the District of Columbia.