U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Approves Massachusetts Waiver Required for ESSA Grants and DESE Releases Grant Guidance

On April 8, 2020, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) received approval from the DOE for specific waivers offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Massachusetts was granted numerous waivers including:

  • Fiscal Year 2019 ESSA funds may be used until September 30, 2021;
  • DESE may waive the 15% carryover limit on Title I funds;
  • Decreased demands under Title IVA; and
  • Definition of “Professional Development” is waived under Title IIA and districts are permitted to “conduct time-sensitive, one-time or stand-alone” professional development opportunities to “help educators provide effective distance or remote learning”.

DESE expects additional waivers from DOE in the coming weeks and months. Districts are encouraged to read the guidance in full at the link below:


DESE Grants

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has also released guidance regarding grant program expenditures. Among the guidance, DESE stated the following regarding the status of DESE grants during the emergency school closure:

  • Active grants may continue to be used to pay for salaries and benefits, “consistent with the recipient organization’s policy of paying salaries”.
  • Grants may be used to pay for “Other costs…necessary to resume activities supported by the award, consistent with applicable cost principles and the benefit to the project”.
  • Generally, there is a rule regarding line item amendments which requires approval 30 days prior to need. This requirement has been lifted. Expenditures should “still fall within the allowable costs and program parameters”.

DESE also created a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding grants. Districts are encouraged to review this guidance and the FAQs in their entirety. The FAQ and the guidance can be found at the link below:


If you have questions or concerns, please contact any of our attorneys.

This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.