LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In an open letter to President Trump, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the president’s prepared letter would not be distributed in food boxes to Los Angeles families because it was a possible violation of the Hatch Act and might “further politicize the COVID-19 response.”
The letter on White House letterhead, which includes President Trump’s signature, has been included in food boxes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Farmers to Families Food box Program.” The letter has prompted concerns from food bank members of the nonprofit Feeding America because nonprofits are not permitted to make political endorsements, while Democratic lawmakers have called it “self-promoting,” “inappropriate,” and appears to violate the Hatch Act, according to CBS News.
Since its campuses closed in March, the Los Angeles Unified School District has provided about 68 million meals to families hit hard by the pandemic and its economic fallout, according to Beutner’s letter to the president (PDF). His letter also called on the Trump Administration and Congress to swiftly pass a bipartisan bill providing relief for schools.
“In its pandemic response, the Administration and Congress have overlooked the vital role schools play,” Beutner said in his letter. “Some officials contend that the extraordinary emergency actions taken by school districts – from providing millions of free meals to the families they serve to buying computers for students to creating their own COVID-19 testing programs – are somehow optional. They aren’t.”
Beutner said the district has spent $350 million on food, computers for students, and COVID-19 testing for all in schools that has not been reimbursed by local, state, or federal governments. Even though Democrats have proposed more than $100 billion more for schools than what Republicans want, both parties agree that schools are in great need.
“The nation’s 13,500 school districts have been forced to take billions away from their core mission at a time when people depend more than ever on their local schools to reopen – and stay open,” Beutner wrote. “Now is the time for your administration to work to pass a bipartisan bill for school funding. There’s lots to do and the kids are counting on us.”