Democracy Forward, on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, sued the Trump administration for withholding records detailing the administration’s unlawful decision to permit the use of federal grant funds to arm teachers in classrooms across America.
Despite the risk Secretary DeVos’ decision will pose to the safety of young children, the Trump administration has refused to fully disclose details about which school districts are seeking to arm teachers and what role the gun lobby played in the administration’s dangerous action.
The suit comes after public reports first revealed the administration would allow school districts to arm teachers using federal funds. The Department publicly cited requests from states, including Oklahoma, as the reason to arm teachers, but refused to provide the public all the information concerning which school districts made the request—an issue the gun lobby has pushed for years.
In an attempt to deflect blame following bipartisan backlash, Secretary DeVos hid behind Congress, incorrectly claiming school districts have the flexibility to use Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants to arm teachers. The use of these federal grant funds to purchase firearms and firearms training for teachers and other school staff is unlawful.
Instead of being transparent with American families on the administration’s unlawful decision, the Department continues to hide information, necessitating this lawsuit. The groups are suing on two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking records. The first of these was filed on August 27, 2018, and sought records discussing or revealing the role the gun lobby played in the administration’s dangerous action. The second FOIA request was filed on September 11, 2018, and sought details about which school districts are attempting to arm teachers using federal funds. As of the date of this complaint, the Trump administration has not complied with its statutory obligations.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.