CARES Act Vulnerable Students Letter

Justice System Reform

Apr. 20, 2020

For media inquiries:
Michelle Rash
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Durham, N.C. — The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), in partnership with three other organizations focused on racial and educational justice, is urging North Carolina to use $95.6 million in education funds earmarked for the state in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to benefit the most vulnerable students.

In a letter sent to Mark Johnson, superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the organizations ask the state to use the money to benefit students of color, economically disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, homeless students, immigrant students and youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system. Among the suggested uses for the funding are purchasing laptops or tablets for students who do not have them, creating quiet learning environments for students who are homeless or in foster care and providing training for students and teachers on how to better utilize technology for remote learning.

Many school districts require student and parental consent to monitor the use of technology provided by the school. The letter to the state Board of Education also requests that requirement be waived since, during a time of distance learning, such technology is no longer optional and monitoring could violate students’ right to privacy and Fourth Amendment rights.

“North Carolina has a constitutional obligation to provide a sound, basic education to all students. That requirement does not disappear when hardships arise. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable students have access to a quality public education that supports their academic, physical, mental and social wellbeing,” said Tyler Whittenberg, Chief Counsel for Justice Systems Reform at SCSJ. “This federal funding creates an opportunity for the state to provide these students with the technology and resources necessary to learn and feel supported during these unprecedented times.”

The federal CARES Act, a stimulus package to help governments, businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19, includes $3 billion in grants to states to support educational needs.


The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing and communications. Learn more at and follow our work on Twitter and Facebook.